‘Thought Contagion’ is not only the worst thing ever released by Muse (step aside, ‘Neutron Star Collision’) but one of the worst things released all year. Hard to believe that a little over ten years ago Muse could release a track as savvy as ‘Supermassive Black Hole’. ‘Thought Contagion’ confirms that not only will Muse never equal Black Holes & Revelations, they won’t even come close.
Every constituent part of the song is broken but by far the worst aspect is the voice of Matt Bellamy, who sounds reedy on the chorus and weirdly affected in the verses.
His voice has always been thin but this was overcome by sheer effort, Bellamy often sing-screaming to the point of his voice cracking altogether. It worked. Here, reaching for arena stentorian, he just sounds nasal.
The promise that this would be ‘Fury Part II’ is broken within the first five seconds. The instrumentation is flat. The chorus stars the millennial woop. The writing is absolute gruel.
Keen listeners will note the lyric “brace for the final solution” – which may be in poor taste – but is more likely inserted into the song simply because it scans well, with no further thought than that. Insensitivity or sheer laziness, the choice is yours.
The song is actually about Richard Dawkins’ concept of memes – explored in the most blunted, unimaginative way possible.
‘Survival’ was bad. ‘Psycho’ was bad. But those songs were redeemed by the musical invention. ‘Thought Contagion’ truly has nothing to recommend itself besides a catchy five second loop, which we all thought Muse were above anyway. The riff is flat, the solo sounds like arse and is ripped from ‘Defector’ and the beat oscillates between the glam-rock doldrums that Dom Howard appears stuck in, and programmed trap. Yes, trap. In a Muse song. Trap.
Chris Wolstenholme is given a bit part – his bass intro is soon drowned out by generic synth effects. He does not appear in the video, nor in any of the promo. His absence is felt. The music video ends with Matt Bellamy pouting in shades, before getting into a sports car.
‘Thought Contagion’ is a graceless failure. For the first time it’s clear Muse should call it a day. If ‘Dig Down’ was a bump in the road, this is the resulting car crash. Time to dust off the glass fragments and go home.