Imagine Dragons, ‘Night Visions’ – Album Review
The omnipresent single 'It's Time' (you've heard it during Wimbledon, the MLB All-Star Game, the trailer for 'Perks of Being a Wallflower' and, in a big seal of approval, 'Glee'), has kept Imagine Dragons in the spotlight for the better part of 2012. The track, with its earwig of a mandolin loop and bespoke anthemics, is the sound of Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire's better angels joining forces to beat U2 at its own game. As a bonus, in the process of showing up the crusty old overlords, they manage to make an album better than anything released in years by a certain other similar-sounding Las Vegas band.
Along the way, Imagine Dragons, aided by producer Alex da Kid, step into hip-hop and joy-core and give an expected nod to dubstep. Throughout its running time, 'Night Visions' proves its meddle as one of the slickest, glossiest-sounding albums of the year.
A turnoff for some, the state-of-the-art sheen is balanced out by the songs themselves. It doesn't take much energy to hear the tracks as stripped-down, back-to-basics affairs that could sound at home both on lantern-lit back porches and amid the waxiness of the Las Vegas Strip.
While listening to 'It's Time' -- and the album at large -- one can't help but think of, of all things, 'Need You Now' by Lady Antebellum. The track was an enormous crossover country hit, winning Song, Record and Single of the Year at just about every awards ceremony worth its red carpet in 2010 -- including the Grammys -- en route to becoming the best-selling digital track in country music history. Engineered for the widest possible appeal, it's an incredible song that hits all the right joy buzzers at the right time. It's also reassuring proof that big music factories still have the tools to create something great.
'Night Visions' is just that. It's not an album that's going to win you indie cred with your friends down at the proverbial record store, but, heck, it's not meant for that. It's the sound of what major label modern rock can and should be: grandiose, adrenaline-soaked, optimistic, well-bred and catchy.