Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Sound Check


Warner Bros.

After the grandiose cacophony of 2012’s “The 2nd Law,” Muse decided to take its next album back to the basics. So, of course, “Drones” is a fully orchestrated concept album with more than a hit of Queen on the aftertaste. As musicians, Muse is fantastic. This is a fact that has been beyond argument for some time. But as with any form of genius, the real trick comes in being able to harness it, and on “Drones,” Muse has let go of the reins a bit. There are still moments of genuine success to be found here, but it all runs the risk of buckling under the weight of the posturing. Lead single “Dead Inside” is not the best track on the album (for that, I would tab “Psycho” and its crunchy rock riffs), but it is easily the most commercially palatable. Is one radio-ready track enough to hook the masses? Your mileage may vary. CV



I’ve always enjoyed Franz Ferdinand. They have not really done anything that was thoroughly worth a damn since 2004, but they have a good sense of humor and sometimes that is enough. For this album, the Scottish four-piece has teamed up with 1970s synth-pop duo, Sparks (Franz Ferdinand. Sparks. FFS. Yeah.). The result manages to be surprising, if not wholly successful. “Little Guy from the Suburbs” threatens to be a good song before losing itself in half-baked Sartre references, but “Things I Won’t Get” manages to be the most restrained track on the album despite its underlying petulance. Finally, after all the seriousness, Franz Ferdinand’s underlying humor finally breaks free with a track called “Collaborations Don’t Work.” It is, sadly, a terrible song. But, knowing how Franz Ferdinand works, that may actually have been the goal. CV


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