Review Summary: So polished that it slips right in one ear and out the other.
The mandolin introduction to Imagine Dragons’ ‘It’s Time’ was the soundtrack to many a radio-rock goers’ summer, and with its unique progression building to one of the year’s most unforgettable choruses, nobody could be blamed for eagerly awaiting the band’s first full-length album. If it delivered upon the promise of ‘It’s Time’ and Imagine Dragon’s earlier 2012 counterpart, the EP Continued Silence
, then there would be little doubt that we’d be staring at one of the best and most unabashedly mainstream rock albums of the year. With genre influences ranging from hip-hop to folk, along with an affinity for peculiar instrumental/synth inclusions, it was easy to see why Night Visions
took its place among the year’s most anticipated records. Unfortunately, the majority of the band’s work here lacks the pleasing aesthetic qualities of their already famous single, allowing the virtually incalculable momentum that they’ve ascertained to be squandered on a commonplace stadium rock album.
It’s not that Night Visions
isn’t listenable, in fact it’s quite the contrary. Every song is offered upon a gold platter of lively hooks, huge drums, and hand claps – but at the heart of every grandiose sonic expedition is a very repetitive structure that fails to stand on the same level as the production. All of this results in something that sounds overblown...too
epic for what it actually is. ‘Fallen’ is a prime instance, employing a heavy drum beat, echoed vocals, and a chorus that soars to ridiculous heights for not being very catchy. Night Visions
does manage to put its best foot forward first, but it’s a quality that can be mostly attributed to four Continued Silence
tracks being presented within the first five songs. It’s rather unfortunate that they must rely on a prior EP to create their debut LP’s best moments, but nevertheless they are
strong. ‘Radioactive’ thrives on an offbeat verse consisting of the line “this is it, the apocalypse” and a triumphant chorus that announces its arrival via the passage, “welcome to the new age.” Obviously, ‘It’s Time’ anchors Night Visions
with its infectious melody, but there is yet another track that rivals the former for best song on the album. ‘Demons’ sways along to a slow tempo, crooning “it’s where my demons hide” overtop of an intense, groovy rhythm. So even though there are gems early on to propel Night Visions
listeners towards optimism, in the end it is these same tracks that cast a shadow over the remainder of the album that, to put it delicately, exists as cushy pillow padding (or as it is more commonly referred to, “filler”). With the exception of the curiously meandering nine-minute-long “Nothing Left to Say/Rocks”, everything across the record’s latter half is painstakingly run of the mill – a complete contradiction of what this band aims to be.
For all the dust that Imagine Dragons manage to blast off the shelves with Night Visions
, it settles all too eagerly in a drab, forgettable fashion. Pomp and frills abound, everything about the album aims to sound slick and streamlined – like audible chocolate. But underneath all the bells and whistles lie a collection of disappointingly boring blueprints, consisting of plain instrumental progressions and choruses that carry themselves with the weight of an anthem but sound like they are spread way too thin for their own good. There are a lot of cosmetics present to cover up the band’s shortcomings, but not even the most epic posturing and glossy production can hide this record’s blemishes.