Review Summary: Step aside Nickelback, there’s a new sheriff in town.
For decades, Nickelback was flat out dominant. You couldn’t turn on an alternative radio station without hearing Chad Kroeger gruffly sing about laughing at photographs. It was awesome. By mixing grunge vocals with lyrics primarily about sex and drinking, they took a couple of very ordinary ideas and managed to turn them into over one hundred
songs as well as millions
of album sales. Talk about a success story. However, as their legacy has slowly begun to fade into the sunset, a new door has blasted open! Standing proudly in the doorway – capes blowing in the wind – are Imagine Dragons, heroes to a once dying genre and its loyal natty-drinking, bro
So I know what you must be thinking right now. What makes Imagine Dragons so much better than Bastille and AWOLNATION – two of the other greatest rock bands of our time？ It’s a fair question and I don’t have an answer. But what I can tell you is that Imagine Dragons are loyal to their sound, because they have not allowed the critics and naysayers to have the slightest impact on how they conduct their business. If you’ve heard Night Visions
, then you’ve heard all of their albums. There’s something to be said for stability during these politically tumultuous times. People need something they can rely on, and Imagine Dragons get that. You can count on the band releasing an album every two years like clockwork, without their fans ever having to worry about pesky things like change.
follows suit, kicking off the epically familiar journey with ‘Natural’, a groovy number that alternates between Dan Reynolds’ brusquely screamed lines of “You’re a natural!” and forceful drumbeats that sound like shovels pounding dirt. It has already landed on the Billboard Hot 100, so you know it is a good song. The other big single is ‘Zero’, which is so upbeat and cheery that it was nabbed by Walt Disney Pictures to help soundtrack Ralph Breaks the Internet
, the sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph
. Despite raw, honest lyrics about being an outsider, “Let me show you what it's like to always feel, feel / Like I’m empty and there's nothing really real, real”, Imagine Dragons keep the tempo sprightly and the mood uplifting. It’s a brave song, and one that should absolutely resonate with its target audience.
One of the best things about Imagine Dragons is that they always have a few gems to unearth outside of their smash hits. ‘Cool Out’ feels like their definitive summer jam. ‘Digital’ implements dubstep and electronic elements, but not enough to alter their long-established formula (so rest easy). It’s kind of interesting how the songs deliver exactly
what the titles suggest, too; a clever little twist from these guys. ‘Bullet in a Gun’ is a heart-wrenching account of Reynolds’ struggle with fame, where “sellout, sellout, sellout!” is literally sung as a part of the track. There’s real depth to these songs, and Imagine Dragons spare no expense in forcing you to realize it. Take ‘Love’ for example, where Reynolds passionately screams, “I’m not a part of your machine, I am the machine!” It’s chilling, and if it doesn’t raise a few hairs on your neck, then it must be because you’re still vibing to the soulful ‘Bad Liar’ – one of their most melodic downtempo ballads which feels like a mirror reflection of 2012’s ‘Demons.’ They even leave you with some food for thought, as listeners will have the opportunity to chew on lyrical nuggets such as “I'm a man of three fears - integrity, faith, and crocodile tears” until they finally get to the bottom of its meaning.
is an album that seemingly has it all. Any piece that can cover an emotional spectrum ranging from gruff cries all the way to handclaps must have a lot to offer. Their consistency is noteworthy too, as the record is seemingly an amalgamation of everything that they’ve accomplished to this point. Some of the melodies may sound suspiciously familiar, but that’s just a running motif in their music. Having sold twelve million albums and thirty five million singles already, they’re well on their way to the kind of radio dominance enjoyed by the pop-rock icons of yesteryear. What’s to stop their meteoric rise？ Step aside Nickelback, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Imagine Dragons.