Imagine Dragons break some new ground while retaining their core sound on their fifth album Mercury – Act 1, out today, but mostly walk back into their own self-achieved genre.
Finding immediate success with their smash debut album Night Visions in 2012, the luster wore off rather quickly, which didn’t seem to deter the band’s direction. Comprised of singer Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee on bass and drummer Dan Platzman, all of whom contribute on other instruments to produce their often flashy sound, Imagine Dragons have yet to produce a cohesive record, jumbling various bits of this and that throughout, which ironically produce a type of cohesion for the band.
This continues on the 42 minute, 13 song Mercury – Act 1 which embraces rock, pop, a little (if not too much) hip hop, sounding sometimes emotional, other times angst ridden. Think of it like a buffet. You load a plate with different foods and either eat everything because you like it or enjoy what tastes good and discard the rest.
Imagine Dragons Mercury – Act 1 Review
The first four songs on Mercury – Act 1 feature some of the band’s finest work. “My Life,” “Lonely,” “Wrecked” and “Monday” pull in a rock flair which suits Imagine Dragons best. They are a rock band and if they stuck in this lane would probably not get some of the grief thrown their way with the overproduction accusations and made-for-radio hits. “My Life” builds to this soaring yet simple guitar solo that adds to the song’s emotional bent, great hooks and vocal work on Lonely,” while “Wrecked” serves as the longest and best track. It’s one of their best. “Monday” has Muse written all over it and a nice contrastive reach by the band.
Some darker themes here too. “There are pills on the table and a thought in my head / And I walk through the halls where I used to be led / My heart is filled with reasons” give some insight on “My Life” and how about: These days I’m becoming everything that I hate / Wishing you were around but now it’s too late / My mind is a place that I can’t escape your ghost” for “Wrecked.” And, “Lonely” speaks for itself.
The rest of Mercury – Act 1 though differs little from previous Imagine Dragons albums with a heavier emphasis on light fare pop and lots of lyrical rhyming bordering on hip hop but a few tracks allowing Reynolds to unleash some inner rage with mixed results. And, what’s an Imagine Dragons album without at least one Disney sounding tune?
The catchy “Easy Come Easy Go” and album closer “One Day” stand out from the rest of this pack with easy melodies and clever lyrical arrangements. “Dull Knives” has the base of an alternative rock song sounding initially over the top with Reynolds’ vocals but with time could turn into a genuine rocker. The same cannot be said for the screamfest making up much of “Giants” and “Cutthroat.” A bit much and the blending of hip hop with rock has the audio equivalent of mixing oil and water.
“#1,” “Follow You,” and “No Time for Toxic People” rank as average middle album cuts with uplifting messages much in the same vein as their previous records and don’t be surprised if “It’s OK” plays over the end credits of some cutesy movie about being OK with you.
Imagine Dragons show no signs of slowing down, with Mercury – Act 1 coming three years after Origins. They have a genuine sound, rarely emulated and, even if the band seems torn on their musical focus or just want to embrace it all, they somehow, for the most part, make it work.
And you know what? It’s OK.
Imagine Dragons Mercury – Act 1 Songs
- My Life
- Easy Come Easy Go
- It’s OK
- Dull Knives
- Follow You
- No Time for Toxic People
- One Day