It’s a shame that Matt Bellamy has never been to North Waziristan. If he had, he’d know first-hand how this area of Pakistan is to drones what lamps are to moths. He’d have seen how the notion of a ‘surgical strike’ is basically untrue, that ordinary civilians die in this part of the world. Up to 1,000 non-combatants are estimated to have died since 2004, including up to 200 children.
You can tell Matt Bellamy has never been to North Waziristan, because not a slither of this information makes it into Muse’s seventh album – a record about the oh-so-trendy-and-zeitgeisty subject of drones.
‘Drones’ is meant to be a concept album, a story about how ‘the system’ and ‘dark forces’ indoctrinate someone into remote killing. It’s a disappointing record on every level. For devoted fans, the uncomfortable truth is that they’re stuck in a glam-rock rut, which – sorry Musers – Royal Blood now do with twice the urgency and zero guff. Yes, the grandiose opera-meets-dubstep ambition of last LP ‘The 2nd Law’ has been reined in, but we’re a long way from the slash-and-burn riffery of ‘Plug in Baby’.
But the greatest sin of this record is that it’s tactless and crass. Bellamy’s supposed narrative is as dull as dog food – told with the wishy-washy flim-flam of a frothing conspiracy theorist. It lacks any insight or perspective; rather, it just seems like a cheap attempt to remake Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’. There’s also something a bit masturbatory about mixing war imagery with hard-riffing rock. In the same way London has seen an explosion of bankers clutching copies of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, you can sadly picture a gun nut or Andy McNab reader totally getting off to this.
Most worrying is that it does the discussion around drones a disservice. Remote killing isn’t new – it’s happened since armies stopped fighting with swords. What is remarkable is the total lack of accountability over their use. Yet Muse are so out of their box, they throw in a sample of JFK rather than the actual, living president who has sanctioned more drones than anyone: Barack Obama. We used to moan that musicians didn’t write about politics anymore. Based on this effort, maybe that’s for the best.
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...