Review of Smoke + Mirrors Album by Imagine Dragons

It wasn't long ago that if you were asked to name an internationally successful rock band from Las Vegas, the likely answer would have been The Killers. In 2012, Imagine Dragons provided an alternative response, falling just short on both sides of the Atlantic of topping the album charts, but making an impact nonetheless. Indeed, anyone in doubt of their rise to stardom need only glance at their touring schedule - constant until the end of the year, it includes UK arena shows in November.

Imagine Dragons Smoke + Mirrors Album

Opening number 'Shots' is a synth-laden dance-rock tune that hits the target in creating a cross-genre anthem that is clearly intended for arena settings.  Dan Reynolds' vocals are just about manageable without the aid of helium whilst the shimmering guitar parts will not for the last time nod toward the delay effects favoured by The Edge. Setting the bar high, it ultimately proves to be the best thing about this record, a point emphasised when the plodding 'Gold' follows it and saps all momentum. The title track, which shares the name of the record, should be a slow-burning success but ultimately feels soulless, a conclusion which also applies to the likes of 'It Comes Back To You', 'The Fall' and the meandering melodies of 'Hopeless Opus'. On first listen, they seem fine, songs that with a few listens will find a place in your psyche, but they fall flat. The latter in particular ruins some enjoyable guitar playing with some awful hip-hop mixing of vocals that is quite frankly embarrassing.

When the Dragons let their hair down they're a more intriguing prospect, but a reluctance to stray from familiar ground regularly makes these moments very much an exception to the rule. 'I'm So Sorry' ploughs along with a fierce rhythm backing some funky guitar, while the outro really should have been extended. Fans of Mumford & Sons may find 'Trouble' as a good entry point to this band, the elements of country and increased tempo providing a pleasant variation to the general tone of the record. Given the accolades that Imagine Dragons have accumulated for being a premier rock act, this is ultimately a disappointing listen, especially given the promise of the first track.


Alex Lai

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