Simulation Theory

Muse - Simulation Theory
Critic Score
Based on 26 reviews
2018 Ratings: #814 / 851
User Score
Based on 702 ratings
2018 Ratings: #783
Liked by 10 people
November 9, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Helium 3, Warner Bros. / Label
Pop Rock, Electropop / Genres / Website
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Yes, this is still Muse, but here they’re trying to be something else – well, everything else. They are avatars in a ridiculous simulation of teenage nerdery, inviting you to steal away from the nightmare, and into an electric dream.

While Simulation Theory might appear to be overly polished mainstream trickery -- all part of the simulation! -- it's purely Muse at heart, successfully merging electronic-pop songcraft with their typically urgent, stadium rock foundation.

Northern Transmissions

Though it’s certainly a little less original than Muse used to be, this is a great return to form for them hidden under what initially comes off as shallow.

Spill Magazine
It’s not enough to completely justify the more-than-occasional cheesiness that permeates the record, but it certainly is a successful and enjoyable effort from a band whose creative longevity had come under scrutiny in recent times.
If a Muse album isn’t meant to make you laugh, gasp and double-take in its ridiculousness, then we don’t wanna hear it.
The Guardian

It’s still the less poppy moments that are most exciting.

The Observer
This is Muse very much in VR play mode, riffing hard on their love of 80s visual culture.
Drowned in Sound

Simulation Theory is, on the whole, pretty lightweight, but it’s got a definite elan to it that indicates Muse are still probably having fun doing this: it is considerably better than the sort of here-is-some-product-to-justify-a-tour work that a lot of bands toss off 24 years into their career.


Muse’s most approachable and most ruthlessly broad record yet, it is an attempt to replicate Scorpion’s Spotify omnipresence, so on the nose the first track is called “Algorithm.” Even singer Matt Bellamy has taken off the shutter shades to take a good look in the mirror and admit that, despite Muse’s operatic ambitions, they have always been a pop band.


Simulation Theory is the most honest album that Muse has created in quite some time. It’s clearly leagues below what they’re capable of, but they’re at least moving forward with the styles of music that they want to create, uninhibited by expectations rooted in the past. This is essentially a synth-pop album, one that is at times exciting and unconventional and at other times tasteless and rudimentary.

FLOOD Magazine

Muse’s eighth studio album, Simulation Theory, is certainly not their best—but it still serves the same Cinnabon-esque function as every Muse album, which is tickling your brainstem with sensory pleasure until you’ve got to stop, disgusted by your own indulgence.

Consequence of Sound

Whereas certain songs allow the bevy of nuance that Simulation Theory presents to achieve a natural state of cohabitation, others bombard the ear with excess — forcing the musical duality with a heavy hand rather than letting it naturally manifest. It is clear from Muse’s past work that they are indeed capable of really delivering, but this time, they just didn’t do so as strongly.

The Needle Drop
Muse's foray into '80s retro-futurism, while at times uninspired and gaudy even by the band's standards, has resulted in their most palatable album this decade.
Rolling Stone
Muse are a platinum rock band working their way through a trend about seven years too late.
The Independent

Simulation Theory seems to fall into two territories – songs are either half-hearted nods to the best of their heavier rock-opera back catalogue, or futuristic, electronic pop-heavy tracks that borrow from bands more adept at that particular sound, and the vast majority of which are burdened with Bellamy’s political paranoia. For a new listener, it’s baffling. For a former, diehard fan, it’s disappointing.

The 405

Muse prove, once and for all, that they are so much better than Radiohead on the future-shock, instant classic, Simulation Theory.


There’s obviously still an audience for Muse, given by the size of the venues they still sell out, and this will definitely please the die-hards, but most of Simulation Theory simply fizzles out without leaving much of an impression.

Under The Radar

As art, it is immature and vacant. As fun, it barely registers. It's less of a step-up from Drones than a step sideways, if only because the self-parody here feels deliberate.

Spectrum Culture

Simulation Theory is all smoke and mirrors and arrives completely without substance, while a real ‘80s synth-driven LP would go beyond simply compiling a series of pitched noises that achieve little more than serving as an effective cure for insomnia.


Is this considered a hot take? Look, I know that rating looks oddly positive. And this will most likely cost any credibility of having any opinion on this site. I could very easily slap a 30 on this and be done with this while affair. But...damn it, Muse won me over in the end.

Yeah, there is no easy way to say this. As a giant, huge, crushing, absolutly biased Muse fanboy/stan, I have come to the conclusion that this album is...odd. It's tacky, gimmicky, silly, weird, stupid, cheesy, ... read more



I wish the actual music on this album was as fun as everything they did to promote it.


What a return to form. It's different and wild but this is the best MUSE has sounded since Black Holes. The instrumentation on nearly every track is impressive as hell and the alternative versions are beautiful. The album as a whole feels cohesive musically in ways that Drones didn't. It's the perfect follow up to The 2nd Law while blending the best elements of Black Holes. Algorithm may be a top 3 opener from all their albums.


It's terrible in every way. Muse found the perfect experimentation in Black Holes And Revelations. Here it fails very strongly. This album is like the Scary Movie of his discography, a poorly executed parody of his signature sound. Dig Down, Propaganda and Get Up and Fight appalling.




Better luck next time.

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Track List

  1. Algorithm
  2. The Dark Side
  3. Pressure
  4. Propaganda
  5. Break it to Me
  6. Something Human
  7. Thought Contagion
  8. Get Up and Fight
  9. Blockades
  10. Dig Down
  11. The Void

Year End Lists

/Radio X
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Added on: August 30, 2018