“Thought Contagion”

The English rock band Muse is easy to bag on. Since emerging as Radiohead wannabees way back in 1999, the group has become more pompous and cartoonishly overblown with each passing year. Frontman Matt Bellamy, especially, has increasingly embraced a silly, Gene Simmons-esque stage persona (minus face paint, plus shutter shades) and very much plays the part of guitar hero. But there’s a reason why Muse is one of the biggest bands on the festival and arena circuits, and its new standalone single, “Thought Contagion,” only reinforces that it’s best when causing a massive ruckus. The song starts with a bass riff that draws equally from the song “Fury,” a bonus track off the band’s 2003 album, Absolution, and the main theme from The Phantom of the Opera. Space-age synthesizers and pitch-shifting guitar effects abound, and the drums are cranked up to stadium-stomping status. The way Bellamy delivers the shrill, operatic vocal hook will ensure it gets stuck in your head, and he lays down a nasty, pitch-shifting solo à la Tom Morello. Guitar hero indeed.