Somewhere out there, there’s a cruel prankster circulating a rumor that The Miracle is Queen’s official return to hard rock. Well, off with his head. The band hasn’t been so bogged down by synthesizers and pinging drum machines since Hot Space.
Basically, The Miracle is a showcase for Freddie Mercury and his love of sweeping, quasi-operatic vocals. And indeed, Mercury — especially on the title track — has never sounded better. One of his strengths is his ability to take even the schlockiest material and make it his own, and that gift comes in handy on The Miracle.
Brian May is still in fighting trim, too — when you can hear him. May’s role on The Miracle is, for the most part, limited to a quick, typically brilliant solo here and there. As a result, the album lacks the sense of dynamics that marked most of Queen’s early work. Only on a few tracks (“Khashoggi’s Ship” and “Was It All Worth It”) does May really let it rip, and when he does, it’s like the old Queen peeping out for just a moment and then turning tail.
If you’re a fan who’s been hankering for years to hear Queen get back to the bombast of its heyday, replace your old copy of A Night at the Opera or News of the World instead. But don’t give up hope. At least The Miracle offers little snippets of Queen’s former majesty.