Muse’s intimidating back-catalogue may be holding them back from producing their next hit single, reviews Katie Leigh-Lancaster
Teasing a highly-anticipated follow-up to their seventh studio album, Drones, Muse are back with experimental new track, ‘Thought Contagion’. Contagious by name and nature, Muse toy with sing-along-able hooks and thumping drumbeats in pursuit of radio gold, only to produce an upcycled Imagine Dragons track. Masked by Matt Bellamy’s hypnotic prowess and a carousel-esque bassline, the jarring trap-drums falter beneath the shell of a Muse hit. Slipping into the faux-anthemic style of late Fall Out Boy, ‘Thought Contagion’ is irresistibly catchy, but undeniably forced.
Starkly poetic, Bellamy’s biting lyricism brings much-needed grit to the track. Harking to the ‘contagion’ of fake news, ‘Thought Contagion’ and earlier single ‘Dig Down’ pack all the political punches of Drones, with less of the proggresive riffs. The opening lines alone, ‘Welcome to the infinite black skies / Brain cleansed, fractured identity / Fragments and scattered debris’ capture a poignant vision of a post-truth future like only Bellamy can.
In a discography of Grammy-award-winning hits, ‘Thought Contagion’ seems a step backwards from an ever-evolving sound. Perhaps the weight of Muse’s legacy is exactly what restricts the track; balancing the pressure to innovate with the pressure of artistic integrity is no easy task. Stylistically, ‘Thought Contagion’ appears little more than an empty imitation of arena-pop, but after a few listens, might become the anthem it so desperately tries to be.
‘Thought Contagion’ is available to buy or stream now.