Album Review: Imagine Dragons, ‘Smoke + Mirrors’
In just a short amount of time, Imagine Dragons went from a Las Vegas band playing small clubs and trying to make it to one of the biggest bands on radio thanks to their Night Visions album and an impressive string of singles.
So now what?
As the band faces the daunting task of following up that hugely-successful breakout album, they had a muse guiding their way -- their own journey. The struggles and triumphs that came during the period of monster success weigh heavily on the band's Smoke + Mirrors record, much of which was written while they were still on tour for the last disc. Whether it be relationships affected ("Shots," "I Bet My Life"), moments of self-doubt ("Smoke and Mirrors" "Gold") or pure determination ("Trouble," "Hopeless Opus"), there are definitely imprints of the band's journey.
One of the big reasons for Imagine Dragons' success on their debut album was the inability to pin down the band as "one thing." And that range of styles continues on their sophomore release. If you were a fan of "It's Time," you've likely already gravitated toward the single "I Bet My Life." Meanwhile songs like "Trouble" and the galloping disc closer "The Fall" will also grab your attention for their full band folkiness. If you were drawn in by the darker, more aggressive nature of "Radioactive," may we suggest you check out the heavier lament on fame called "Gold," the edgier beats of "Friction" and "I'm So Sorry," a track featuring some nasty funk guitar from Wayne Sermon and stomp-heavy rock. It's truly one of the standouts on the album.
Meanwhile, the band also shows a knack for crafting a great pop hook. "It Comes Back to You" shows great crossover potential with poppy infectiousness and a soulful swing and "Summer," a song the band recently debuted live, also leans more on frontman Dan Reynolds' emotional vocal performance.
With such a variety of styles, you might think it'd be hard to fit it all together, but Imagine Dragons have done an admirable job of making Smoke + Mirrors a full listening experience, from the infectious keys to triumphant grooves.
While it may be hard to match the success of Night Visions, Imagine Dragons have done nothing to make you think their hot streak won't continue. Smoke + Mirrors succeeds not only as an immersive aural journey, but also in providing plenty of songs that will keep them a mainstay on the radio airwaves. We think it's safe to say that we'll be seeing more big things for Imagine Dragons in 2015 and beyond.