Here’s the thing, In 2012 Imagine Dragons released the album Night Visions, one of the most successful albums in the 2000s peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart with first week sales in excess of 83,000 copies – the highest charting for a debut rock album since 2006 – reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative and Rock Album charts, and winning a Billboard Music Award for Top Rock Album. Bottom line the album was a huge hit that got them to the top of all of the charts and more importantly showed that a record could be wildly successful without depending on sex, drugs, or other unseemly content to attract attention.
The point here is that the record was so perfect in every aspect as a modern Indie rock album that after finishing listening to it you can’t help but asking how in God’s name will they ever be able to top that! How will they progress from here? The thing is, Imagine Dragons started from the top and when you start from the top you are left with two possible scenarios either going down – which is most probable – or creating other regions in that top level you are in and keep wandering alone in them, only very few musicians could do so and with Smoke + Mirrors I could honestly say that Imagine Dragons are definitely not one of them. For the fans, the listeners and the critics, the album will forever lie in the shadow of Night Visions.
There are two notes and three topics to talk about this album and each are about a component of a record: Music, Lyrics and Vocals
First of all, let’s take a look at the album’s sounds, the music has highly changed from Night Visions, drums doesn’t take that huge part they used to take in Imagine Dragon‘s music in lots of songs, instead there are more room for other instruments specially instruments new to them showing how much they were affected by their world tour that we hear some Middle Eastern sounds in the start of ‘Friction’, thinking it’s Oud. I don’t know… Just guessing.
About the lyrics, they are trying so hard to keep up with their debut success album lyrically that it shows that they are trying to do so. It’s either that or they are talking about the same stuffall over again because they ran out of things to say. We see Dan Reynold’ssorry and regretful emotions in ‘I’m so sorry’, ‘Shots’ and ‘I bet my life’ like he was in Amsterdam, talking about his demons in ‘Trouble’ as well as ‘Demons’. The rest of the record’s lyrics honestly don’t make any sense, they are trying to get deep and all and just failing it. The highlight of the album lyrically is ‘Gold’, it talks about the dark side of fame, the empty half of being famous: “When everything you touch turns to gold” which is a new topic for the band, the track has its dark, down, sad mood and the jarring rhythms puts the black cherry on the dark cake.
Last but not least is Dan’s vocal performance: as usual, excellent. He somehow coped his voice to all of the different moods in the album made you willing not to skip the song if only it had any meaning to it or if it wasn’t musically boring. He also killed it in ‘Shots’ showing his impressive vocal range in his tender falsetto in the pre-chorus making it one of the album’s most memorable moments.
There is a note I have on ‘I am so sorry’ though, seriously, what are they trying to do? This is clearly a Fallout Boy song not an Imagine Dragons one, removing Dan Reynold’s voice and putting Patrick Stump’s instead will make so much more sense to my ear into it.
Finally, if you really are an Imagine Dragons fan like myself and really don’t want to hate the album, just settle for these four songs ‘Shots’, ‘Gold’, ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ and ‘The Fall’. And here is a playlist of these four songs.