For better or worse, Muse still haven’t given up on becoming the most flamboyant pastiche of themselves possible. It’s got to the point where their ninth album is a smorgasbord of dystopian-flavoured cringe: having encountered a shortage of ways to say that we need a revolution, the Teignmouth trio have resorted, once again, to rummaging through a box of cliches. “With every hour our number increases / We’ll smash your institutions to pieces,” is the eye-rolling promise Matt Bellamy makes over the title track’s electro-rock squeals, while the contrived authoritarian-isms in the soapy synthpop track ‘Compliance’ are more hollow than sinister. Sonically, it’s frequently bizarre: ‘Liberation’ is essentially a melodramatic West End number that’s too grandiose to be taken at face value, while the overwrought dance rock of ‘You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween’ is padded out with strange organ flourishes and an odd spatter of guitar soloing that will induce laughter for all the wrong reasons. The last third of the record is more streamlined, with the sweeping, subtly metallic ‘Kill Or Be Killed’ offering a welcome throwback to the days when Muse were at their best, but it’s not enough to redeem this all-too-OTT offering.
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