Words fae Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again! The year of our lord, twenty eighteen, has been a topsy turvy one at best, but the topsy is about to become more turvy than ever before, because in 2018, Muse have actually written a palatable, and plausibly good song. Dropping as quickly and as surprisingly as your gym shorts in year 7 when the biggest boys snuck up on you, The Dark Side has a… well… a dark side that creates a demonic and dystopian vibe with its use of synth.
To be quite honest, the three singles prior to this were swings, and misses. Dig Down was more of a grower than a shower, but it left you feeling unfilled either way, Thought Contagion is probably the worst contagion since the plague, and Something Human sounded good as an acoustic jam, but didn’t quite land in the way you’d hope, however, it wasn’t terrible. With The Dark Side, Muse actually hit the mark.
The singles leading up to the now announced album Simulation Theory, a title and tracklist that conjures images of an Elon Musk wet dream after reading his favourite subreddits before saying “Goodnight m’lady, may all your dreams be le epic wins” to Grimes. This is a totally hypothetical situation, but let’s face it, after airing the dirty washing recently, it’s not that far detached from reality. Plus, considering the guy is a bajillionaire whose hobbies include making rockets and slamming tabs of acid, it’s totally okay to dunk on him, and to one day put the heads of the bourgeois on stakes.
The Dark Side has the same sort of dark, Depeche Mode-esque feel to it that Map of the Problematique has. That’s not to draw comparison between the two, but the use of arpeggiated synth in The Dark Side feels like a slowed-down version of Map. There is a very eighties electronic feel to this song, something that the other three tried to conjour but failed, whereas The Dark Side absolutely fucking nails it. Had they started with this track and worked our way up, Simulation Theory could have been one of the most tantalising releases of 2018, but with the way things are, this just about gets you interested again.
Vocally and lyrically, The Dark Side actually keeps it quite simple. Matt Bellamy‘s vocals are strained and reverberated, contributing to the darkened atmosphere in the track. Lyrically, it actually runs in a similar vein to Map, with the protagonist seemingly dealing with inner demons and mental torture, for instance, in verse one:
“I have lived in darkness // For all my life, I’ve been pursued // You’d be afraid if you could feel my pain // And if you could see the things I am able to see”
They are clearly suffering from some kind of mental anguish, and the theme runs through the entire lyrical theme of the song, combining with the dark and dystopian feel of the song.
Whilst not enough to instantly reinstall Muse as flavour of the month, The Dark Side feels like a throwback to an older Muse sound whilst keeping the band moving forward. Fingers crossed that this is more of what we’ll see on Simulation Theory, as opposed to the rest of the awful shite we’ve heard so far.