Muse: Simulation Theory review – Brash, OTT, brilliant and nonsensical

Simulation Theory
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Artist: Muse
Genre: Alternative
Label: Warner Bros.

Muse singer Matt Bellamy once said that whenever he straps on a guitar, he feels like he is going up against the legends of rock. Earlier this year, he declared that the guitar's imperial rule as a lead instrument was over.

Consistent with this new ethos, Bellamy and his Devon bandmates have created a lavish synth-rock concept album entitled Simulation Theory, an homage to the evergreen 1980s and a step away from the dark, dystopian themes of their more recent records.

Like any Muse album, Simulation Theory is flamboyant, brash, surreal, totally over the top, often infuriating, but frequently stunning.

Pressure is one of the catchiest tunes they've delivered since Supermassive Black Hole, produced by long-term associate Rich Costey, Timbaland, Shellback and Mike Elizondo, who is best known for his collaborations with Dr Dre and co-writing The Real Slim Shady with Eminem. Thought Contagion is overblown nonsense, but it is still highly addictive and infectious.

The Back to the Future shtick doesn't gel as well as other Muse albums, but for a big, bold sound, and an unfaltering willingness to think outside the box, they deserve respect.

Even when Muse almost become a parody act of themselves, they’re still thoroughly entertaining.