Imagine Dragons kind of remind me of Nickleback. When they first came on to the scene they brought this wondrous, almost new sound (in their respective categories) virtually unheard of before and they took the music world by storm.
Then they got old.
Little changed from album to album and as for Imagine Dragons they released a real clunker a year ago but now they return, to form in many respects, with their fourth album Origins (out today). (OK, I revisited Evolve and its not nearly as bad as I remember. Though a couple of songs comes across as real head scratchers and perhaps that was my initial revolt.)
If you, like so many who hate Nickelback, now hate Imagine Dragons, this album won’t change your mind much. But if you appreciate the Las Vegas quartet for who they are, a pop-heavy radio friendly band that incorporates fun hooks and lots of drums (yes often electronic booms), then enjoy. Origins breaks through the stalemate of the band’s recent efforts and finds the band in solid form much like their first album with fun poppy hooks, jammin’ bass and all that Imagine Dragons came to be known for.
The album features 12 songs (a deluxe version offers three additional tracks) with most hovering just under four minutes. The album moves along rather briskly without much drag from any of the cuts and even the deluxe version encompasses a mostly enjoyable 52 minutes. I’m still trying to figure out the best method to album reviews (one reason I don’t do many) so try this on for size:
- Natural – some soaring vocals here; should go over very well live.
- Boomerang – not a bad song but kinda sorta explains why this band gets under the skin of so many
- Machine – brings back all those eclectic drums and drum beats with a surplus of varied sounds
- Cool Out – here the band taps into their inner Coldplay
- Bad Liar – another solid song
- West Coast – a great listen
- Zero – the band’s contribution for the feature film Ralph Breaks the Internet
- Bullet in a Gun – pretty much what you’ve come to expect from Imagine Dragons
- Digital – this is a fun song. Here the band taps into their inner Switchfoot
- Only – another adventurous take by the band
- Stuck – gets a bit stuck in itself
- Love – not much love for this song
- Birds – bump this up to song #11
- Burn out – this is a solid song. Emotional but driven and a good blend of gloom countered with optimism. Love the guitar in here. Why deluxe only?
- Real Life – another solid effort
The Deluxe version includes the three final songs as bonus. I never understand why bands do this. Just release an album. I pity the fan who has OCD. If the bonus songs suck but you can’t bear to let them go then save them for the next album when the ideas return and you can craft them accordingly. However, in the case of Origins all three “Deluxe” songs work very well and should make the entirety of the album’s standard release.
So dump the final two songs on the standard release and add the three included on the “Deluxe” album and you got yourself another smash record.
Lastly, I’m not one to dive deeply into the lyrics of music but based on some of what I tuned into this album will probably speak to some of life’s issues along with positive, uplifting words of encouragement.
Overall, Imagine Dragons have not captured lighting in the bottle again like on their award-winning debut Night Visions and they do need to scale back on the rather excessive use of repeating a verse or even one word over and over. Over and over. Over and over. And if Coldplay has truly called it a career, Imagine Dragons is well suited to pick up the mantle. Nevertheless, Origin moves along enough to stand on its own and shows the band hasn’t fallen into the common trap of trying to reproduce what made them a household name nor does it show they exhausted all creative efforts six years ago.
Imagine Dragons – Origins track list:
- Cool Out
- Bad Liar
- West Coast
- Bullet in a Gun
- Burn Out*
- Real Life*