Simulation Theory (Deluxe)
From the retro-futuristic cover art by Stranger Things poster designer Kyle Lambert to lyrical themes of oppression, the trio’s eighth album, Simulation Theory, plays like an ’80s sci-fi flick. The opening set of songs lays out a bleak setting: “Algorithm” and “The Dark Side” are cries for help set against caterwauling synth-rock. Yet rather than wallow in despair, the band uses stirring oratory and a spectacular wall-of-sound to rise against systematic, technological and mental anguish. They rally the troops on “Thought Contagion”, “Dig Down” and “Get Up and Fight”, while “Something Human” shows that even a platinum-selling megaband needs a reassuring hug sometimes. The one Simulation Theory song that will surely inspire debate is “Propaganda”, the trio’s collaboration with producer Timbaland. On it, lead singer Matt Bellamy locks into a sexy falsetto while Timbaland puts his foot (and a slide guitar) into the track. Will longtime Muse fans accept a Timberlake-like pure-pop turn from Bellamy? It’s a tipping point but one that was inevitable; after exploring darkness on Drones, The 2nd Law and The Resistance, Simulation Theory shows the band embracing fresh styles. The Deluxe Version also includes acoustic, gospel and “alternative reality” versions of five tracks.