The Will of the People LP
This isn’t a music review, per se. Muse are on everyone’s radar, and you’ll already know if you like their space-fuzz riffery, which isn’t particularly different sonically than other recent releases (perhaps a little more ‘Final Countdown’ channelling through the synth, some Radiohead moments smuggled here and there, an early U2 guitar line, and some uber-Queen moments, but you know what we mean). We wanted to dive into the convergence of time and space, known as releasing an angsty record during a political shitstorm.
You don’t have to be in the UK to feel this album. The United States hasn’t yet recovered from their decision to allow an “amusing celebrity baffoon” into their hallowed halls of democracy. There are plenty of other countries struggling with utterly despicable people in power. So, unless you live somewhere like Finland or New Zealand, you might at least bubble near the edges here.
Muse, though, are from Devon. So, we’ll assume it’s largely from an English perspective. With this in mind, let’s look at the helicopter view of the album. Just look at these track titles:
- Will of the People
- Won’t Stand Down
- Ghosts (How Can I Move On?)
- You Make Me Feel Like Halloween
- Kill Or Be Killed
- We Are Fucking Fucked
For those who require help, the theme is revolution. Digging deeper only makes this message more visceral.
Muse as a Rock Opera
The album is arranged into a rock opera where the narrative switches between different perspectives. The people crying out for change, and the authorities trying to crush their resistance.
The people are the first to stir in ‘The Will of the People’:
Let’s push thе emperors into the ocеan
Don’t need a goon to flood with devotion
With every hour, our number increases
We’ll smash your institutions to pieces
With every second, our anger increases
We’re gonna smash your nation to pieces
Then power strikes back in ‘Compliance’:
We just need your compliance
You will feel no pain anymore
And no more defiance
We just need your compliance
The call and response continues in ‘Liberation’:
Silenced, you’ll make us feel silenced
You stole the airwaves, but the air belongs to us
And violence, you’ll make us turn to violence
You’ve left us choiceless, our backs against the wall
We have plans to take you down (forced abdication)
We intend to erase your place in history (regime revocation)
Soon (soon) you’ll be left with nothing
The middle of the album takes on more personal perspectives. Is there a love story threaded into this strange musical? An individual tale that helps us see the people at the heart of the chaos? We soon return, perhaps less directly, to the theme in ‘Euphoria’:
Shut down, we are growing spiritless
If no one cares, then who is gonna save us?
Give us euphoria
Worn out, everything will fall apart
So shine a light and warm up this heavy heart
And give us euphoria
The album is summed up a little hopelessly in ‘We Are Fucking Fucked’
You really believe
We can survive all of this?
The black vacuum of the universe, it was designed
To swallow us whole
It’s a losing game
We’re at death’s door, another world war
Wildfires and earthquakes I foresaw
A life in crisis, a deadly virus
Tsunamis of hate are gonna find us
So, okay… there’s no happy resolution, but the album was released on 26th August 2022, so things were (to put it mildly) not resolved. Certainly not any of the stuff in this last track.
Revolution, tearing down institutions, removing the people in power. Isn’t this all a bit too much in ol’ Blighty? It’s not all that terrible is it? Not compared to elsewhere.
Well, ain’t that the trick? Keep you in your place because “at least we aren’t like [some other place]” just long enough to become just like it. The plucky inhabitants of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have such a low tolerance for cretins in power because we know it’s a fast-track journey from cretinous government to total dictatorship.
We might sometimes be accused of being too quick to compare stuff to Hitler is a compliment because if you don’t jump on this comparison early enough, it ends up being too late.
As I said, this isn’t a music review. It’s a signpost hammered into the ground to remind us how close we got to catastrophic government. When you look back at this, things will have gotten better… otherwise, this probably won’t even be here to find as the arts are quickly suppressed when things fall apart.
For those who wanted to know what the album sounds like, it really is Muse combined with very very strong references to Queen, Radiohead, U2, and Europe. Some tracks give you flashes of Absolution-era Muse, but it’s mostly post-Supermassive era riffuzz.