With their newest release, Smoke + Mirrors, Imagine Dragons can already claim commercial success as their album is en route to topping the Billboard 200 Chart after just over one week of sales.
Imagine Dragons faces the challenge of bringing rock back into the mainstream. It’s no secret that the genre has not done too well in recent years, but with this album, the band seems to continue their trend of creating rock music that appeals to all sorts of people. This likely draws from their eclectic influences, which include folk and hip-hop, and anthem-like choruses rather than their “rock” sound.
This approach worked well with their last album, and it seems the band has done the same this time around. While the two albums are not carbon copies, the similarities are clearly visible. The hit songs from this record are incredibly similar to the best ones from Night Visions. All contain uplifting choruses, a strong beat, and catchy lyrics that have audiences singing along after only a few listens. While this latest effort fails to take the band in any radical new directions, it reaffirms Imagine Dragon’s identity as a group with an entirely unique sound. They’ve set themselves apart as an experimental and creative collective, writing songs with a characteristically “epic” vibe that still are universally appreciated.
Smoke + Mirrors is not incredible, nor is it terrible. Some tracks deserve praise for Dan Reynolds’ impressive vocal range. In songs like “Trouble” and “I Bet My Life”, Reynolds pulls in the listener with gentle vocals before launching into a fast-paced chorus. Other songs do not fare as well. “Polaroid” stands out as one of the weakest songs on the album and comes off as somewhat grating.
In this instance, the familiar pressures that accompany a sophomore release had a special intensity, given the popularity of the band’s first album. Imagine Dragons played it safe, retuning with an album similar in style and quality to their last. There are some hits and some duds, but there is no doubt that, given the elevated platform from which they began this latest endeavor, the band will find even more success with Smoke+Mirrors than they did with their last record.