Imagine Dragons
Smoke + Mirrors


1.5
very poor

Review

by Green Baron USER (159 Reviews)
February 16th, 2015 | 200 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In order to be considered a sophomore slump, the debut actually has to be good, right?

When the music world recognizes Imagine Dragons as its biggest rock band, there’s a huge problem that needs to be solved. Despite taking most of their cues from indie pop/rock and hip-hop, even collaborating with rap producer Alex da Kid, the Las Vegas-based quartet fits only into the loosest definition of rock; they are a band and they play instruments, so why not, right? One thing that can’t be doubted, though, is that they are pretty successful. They currently have the fourth best-selling album of 2013, the record for most weeks spent on the Billboard Hot 100 with 87 and a 13-week #1 hit on Alternative radio under their resumé. Their popularity hasn’t been met without backlash, though, with severe detractors predicting them to become the “next Nickelback” in terms of mass-produced hate. Although that may be stretching it a tad, it’s not difficult to see where their disdain comes from.

With Night Visions, Imagine Dragons briefly showed glimpses of potential in deep cuts like “Tiptoe” and the B-sides “Monster” and “America”, not to mention that the big hits “It’s Time” and “Radioactive” ranked amongst the record’s best. Yet the pre-release party for Smoke + Mirrors kicked off with “I Bet My Life”, an admittedly weak choice, debuting with little fanfare aside from usage in a Sprite commercial. The track’s main flaw is simply how disjointed it is; the quiet, crooning verses juxtaposed with a loud, overly bombastic chorus flows as if they’re from two separate songs (and what the hell is that ear-splitting screeching playing over and over again in the background?). The same problem plagues “Gold” (which is incessantly dull in its own right and features more unpleasant background noises). It’s just lazy songwriting, which gets showcased far too often on here. Night Visions had the occasional “On Top of the World” or “Underdog”, a piece of musical trash that was simply unforgiveable, but there’s a lot more where that came from on this album.

Smoke + Mirrors is a tedious listen at times, and there are multiple factors as to why. Although it’s not a particularly long album (there’s only thirteen tracks on here, and the total running time is just over fifty minutes), one’s perception of time can be altered solely through the sheer awfulness of certain songs. The worst offender, “Polaroid”, sounds like Dan Reynolds decided to take some cues from Lorde, and the result is a clusterfuck of hip-hop beats, irritating vocal delivery and awful lyrics (could someone please tell me what the hell “the color of boom” is?). There’s also a fair deal of experimentation, and it’s hit-or-miss (mostly miss). “Friction” incorporates some Eastern influence, but the track is so loud and bombastic that it becomes grating instead of energetic. Similarly, “Trouble”, the band’s attempt at writing a fast-paced folk tune, just falls flat on its face. If there’s any glimmer of hope to be found, it’s on occasional moments of greatness like the synthpop-tinged opener “Shots” and the guitar-driven “Radioactive”-lite “I’m So Sorry”, both of which capture their penchant for catchiness and energy.

Many people have written off Imagine Dragons simply for being successful and having their songs blasted on the airwaves habitually. Those people are wrong. Imagine Dragons shouldn’t be disliked because of overexposure; they should be disliked for making low-quality music. They may pretend to be this huge “rock” act with alternative credibility, but they’re essentially nothing more than a pop band posing under the guise of indie to seem cooler and more "hip”. While songs like “Dream” showcase their potential for writing heartfelt, genuine music, it’s drivel like “I Bet My Life” and “Friction” that remind me of the countless times Imagine Dragons have disappointed with lazy songwriting and irritating musical choices. Even though Night Visions had its fair share of filler, it was just that: filler. It wasn't rage-inducing, irredeemable waste. Just don’t write this off as a sophomore slump just yet. After all, in order to be considered a sophomore slump, the debut actually has to be good, right?



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user ratings (393)
1.9
poor
other reviews of this album
JamesMarlon (2)
Smoke+Misses...

Subho (3.5)
"Smoke + Mirrors" isn't a particularly classic album, but it's not piss poor either....

TheMoonchild (1.5)
Imagine Dragons have learned absolutely nothing from their past mistakes....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
February 16th 2015


24798 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Sometimes I hate my internet connection. When I'm staring at the load screen for this review to submit for 30 minutes is one of those times.

TheMoonchild
February 16th 2015


1196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"Even though Night Visions had its fair share of filler, it was just that: filler. It wasn't rage-inducing, irredeemable waste."



My thoughts exactly. Then again it was an EP stretched out to full length.

dmp3131
February 16th 2015


1353 Comments


Debut was solid all things considered. EPs were
great, as well. But everything I've heard off this so
far has been abysmal. Good review, though. Pos'd.
What songs off this did you like most?

Let
February 16th 2015


1714 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

wonderful summary, pos

Green Baron
February 16th 2015


24798 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Dream, Shots, I'm So Sorry and It Comes Back to You are probably the only things worth revisiting

Kupasexy15
February 16th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Am I the only who like "On top the World"? Haha, GB have a pos as they are excel at mediocrity.

Green Baron
February 16th 2015


24798 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

On Top of the World is one of the worst songs I can remember in recent memory.

Let
February 16th 2015


1714 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

God it's so hard to sit through Gold. They somehow out AWOLED AWOLNATION'S laughably bombastic Sail. Same goes with I Bet My Life and so on ad nauseam

TheMoonchild
February 16th 2015


1196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I Bet My Life was so hard for me to sit through.

Asdfp277
February 16th 2015


21800 Comments


woah great review! i've been off sputnik for a while, and the few random reviews i've read have been generally shitty. it's nice to see a review from someone who can actually write cohesive paragraphs, an structured piece, and who actually proofreads their own reviews

pos'd

Artuma
February 16th 2015


31343 Comments


good review. night visions was just shockingly awful so won't be listening to this

Digging: Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket - Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.

JWT155
February 16th 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Shockingly awful? It wasn't amazing but it surely wasn't terrible. I'd rather listen to that then a lot of other records.

Tunaboy45
February 16th 2015


16808 Comments


Haha that summary

Artuma
February 16th 2015


31343 Comments


"Shockingly awful?"

yes. i can't stand it

danielcardoso
February 16th 2015


11770 Comments


Great review as usual Baron, pos'd from me. Shit band.

Observer
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2015


7321 Comments


Damn already have two reviews of hate for this... What am I gonna write about? I guess ill give it a classic review and lie.

Good work dude

Digging: Shiner - Lula Divinia

MattTD
February 16th 2015


678 Comments


I liked the first album, but I've felt no love towards this.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 16th 2015


32817 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

This is one of the best reviews I've read from you

Digging: Coldplay - Everyday Life

Green Baron
February 16th 2015


24798 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

So that's who called dibs on this album...

Ebola
February 16th 2015


3716 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Spot-on



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