Eric Schackne

Review: Imagine Dragons: ‘Night Visions’

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Imagine Dragons is a band that sparks my curiousity for the future of pop music.  Their first full-length release, Night Visions sporadically delivers the rich and distinct voice of frontman, Dan Reynolds with some tasty swells of gang vocals and intense electronic-infused beats.  There were more than a few moments throughout Night Visions that made me nostalgic for the band responsible for “Mr. Brightside,” fellow Vegas desert-mates, The Killers.  Overall, I felt like the record unfortunately lacked a through line for the vocal style with some songs coming out more unique and character-y than others.

After clicking play, I was welcomed by “Radioactive” a massive sound with a massive gang-vocal chorus imediately showing why they are proper tour mates for  electro-rock powerhouse,  AWOLNATION.  With some nice dubstep undertones, this song was simple and easy to move to; a great opener.  Second up, “Tiptoe” proves to have some not-so delicate steps.  The 80’s infused intro shows a different side of the band, and the synth riff kept my mind excited for what was coming.  The gang vocals in the chorus were a pleasant surprise to find again.  Throw in some great headphones moments in the bridge and my energy is primed for their single, “It’s Time.”  Hearing Reynold’s voice come through with such novel character is really the first time you hear him display his talents to the fullest extent.  I appreciated having the piano there to ground the verses before the electronic aspects took over.  While this song is eerily reminiscent of a Matt and Kim hit I’ve definitely overplayed(“Daylight”), it’s a little underwhelming as far as a single goes.

The next track is responsible for making me lose my listening steam a little.  “Demons” wreaks of someone else’s style (maybe One Republic or The Script).  To me, this felt like a big departure from the edge they had coming out of the gate.  A couple songs later, “Every Night” would hit too many of the same notes for me.  “On Top of the World” felt stylistically similar at first, but greeted me with another epic gang vocal-filled chorus that carried the energy through the end of that track making it a fun album-song.

“Amsterdam” was a return to more of what intrigued me at first.  I loved the groove right away and there is a smoothness to the vocals that proved to be a nice juxtaposition to the upbeat rhythm.  Feeling good, I arrive at “Hear Me,” a track that makes me feel like I’m actually listening to a rock band in the electro madness.  It was nice to hear an organic guitar riff poke out of the mix.  This song was cool, but a little too parallel to a song that might have been on “Hot Fuss” by The Killers.  This return to the indie rock end of the spectrum may have been appreciated earlier in the album.

“Bleeding Out” was the closest to an enjoyable ballad that I found on the album, despite the percussion feeling a smidgen too busy for me.   My energy however was up to receive “Underdog,” my standout favorite (next to “Tiptoe”).  The interesting synth line, gang vocals and killer chorus had me moving the whole time.

The dueling closing track was an interesting choice and definitely felt like a good bookend for the record.  I loved how dark and heavy this song felt both instrumentally and vocally, as well as the drum sounds.  The horns that come in toward the end of “Nothing Left To Say” weren’t my favorite, feeling a little too digital, though the bridge and wailing vocals saved the song for me.  “Rocks” was a nice call back to their most frequented style with a fun world-infused beat.  But I may have liked it better as an interlude rather than the final notes of the record.

All in all, I may have enjoyed an extended EP’s worth of these songs as opposed to a full-length from Imagine Dragons, but I’d be excited to hear them nail a ballad in the future while continuing to bring the wall of electro-rock sound and intricate movable beats to their live shows and future records.

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