Relative unknowns Imagine Dragons exploded earlier this year when their EP Continued Silence dropped with the catchy first single “It’s Time.” The song has since been passed around numerous music blogs, television shows (soon to be featured on the returning Glee), and radio play – gaining themselves quite the amount of buzz. The single itself still holds strong on the iTunes charts since it’s release on Valentine’s Day of this year. But as we all know, one good song cannot make an album great. So we’re at an impasse for Imagine Dragons, entitled Night Visions.
Their debut album is about 11 songs long, 13 if you bought it from iTunes or Best Buy (by the way, those two do not have the same bonus songs). Four of those songs on Night Visions came from the six song EP, so the album doubles as a bit of repackaging. The first five songs, in fact are all four of the EP’s contributions and “Tiptoe,” a rather forgettable piece of synth pop. The first two singles “Radioactive” and “It’s Time” deliver the best moments on the album, with the bombasticity of Dan Reynolds’ voice on the chorus of the former and the overarching handclaps and mandolin on the latter sticking with me. “On Top Of The World” (another EP song) is a great World Cup song, with a very worldy feel to it. The last song “Nothing Left To Say/Rocks” is a two-for-one type of song. The first six minutes are rather enjoyable, being it filled with some decent verses and a great incorporation of horns and orchestrics. The next two minutes, however, are the best two minutes on the album. With a driving beat and a mandolin part resembling “It’s Time”, “Rocks” really closes the album well – I really wish that it was fleshed out and became a stand alone track instead of an add on.
The biggest compliment I can give this album is that their ideas, although are really pushing towards a commercial crowd, come off very well. The band has an ear for loud and memorable choruses that will just sit in your head all day, making you hum along to it as you walk. Reynolds’ voice also helps this album quite a bit. When he really sings it out (ex. the chorus to “Amsterdam”), he sounds great and gives that song more replay value. Even when he uses his his lower registry (ex. the verses to “Amsterdam”), it makes for a nice, memorable soundtrack.
But then you listen to him and what he is really saying. And then Night Visions drops. Hard. The album is full of lyrical miscues and cliches that robs some songs of what little appeal they had. Songs like “Demons” and “Hear Me” were just okay for the first couple of listens, but the lyrics makes these two songs completely skip-able. Then there’s “Every Night,” an atrocious love song filled with awful metaphors and one hair-tearing chorus. It sounds like it’s trying to be inspirational, but it just falls flat in the worse way possible – especially in that bridge in the middle. This was an issue that I had with their EP when it came out in February, and I’m sad to hear that the band has not gotten better about this. Even the songs I really liked above have issues – they seriously are not exempt from this.
Again, I liked the musical ideas that Imagine Dragons put out here, both on Continued Silence and Night Visions. But the lyrics are just too inconsistent, teetering on enjoyable and utter garbage. The sad thing about this is that the album is selling really well. If they were to come out with another album next year and not have a song like “It’s Time,” but really refined their lyrical content, I’d buy it without hesitation. It probably wouldn’t sell but no matter, I’d definitely give it a shot. But if they aim for something to get played on radios or on Vh1, expect to hear these cringe-worthy lyrics forever from Imagine Dragons. It’s sad to think about, because this band has so much potential. Too bad they just threw it into a couple of songs.
Final Grade: C-
Go Download: “It’s Time”