Finally, Las Vegas lets loose one of their own that doesn’t wither in the face of The Killers – they’re called Imagine Dragons, and you’ve been singing their breakthrough radio song for a while now, whether you realize it or not. The band’s full-length debut LP gives us one hell of a first full impression, and after inking a deal with Interscope sub-imprint KIDinaKORNER, frontman Dan Reynolds and crew are wasting no time or opportunity in laying out the full spectrum of their capabilities.
The rom-com-crescendo soundtrack of It’s Time – dripping with influence from producer Alex da Kid, was a radio smash from inception, possessing all the right marks for an emotive powergrab, with a mandolin spin that pushes it into more curious territory than the standard heartstrain hits. The formula gets a heavier hand on tracks like Fallen or Every Night, with big drums and handclaps, hitting radio marks without dumbing down the chemistry.
Night Visions is packed with magnetic hooks and massive drum architectures, making for a well-muscled percussive record of hits-in-waiting. The limitations of character within the forest of the songs reels in the grandiosity of ambition, for a balanced affair through a wild ride of variety.
Many of the best moments from their debut LP are actually reworked & supercharged versions of songs from their Continued Silence EP, which arrived on Valentine’s Day of this year, and earlier – a full third of Night Visions, actually. Demons and On Top Of The World bring a new power and edge to their initial design, providing an added buoyancy to that established by the reworked tracks longtime fans will recognize & celebrate, including older tunes Hear Me and Amsterdam.
Opening throb Radioactive, meanwhile, sexes up the dub-flirtation with a verse hingeing on the line “this is it, the apocalypse” and a triumphant chorus, with more than a few shades of Hip-Hop in the production. It’s radio-ready as they come, and it becomes clear in the contrasting but equally FM-baiting Demons, which sways through a lover’s croon and dedication declaration.
It’s not all a matter of swinging for arena fences and giving DJs intro room for their nonsensical plugjabber, though; the nine-minute-long Nothing Left to Say/Rocks puts you in the car and drives, and lyrical relation or not, the epic hits hard after 3:30 when Reynolds layers different melodies to fill your head completely.
Night Visions keeps you on your toes with a progression that is anything but linear, and maybe that’s a matter of simply trying out all the dynamics they’ve got in the bag on their first full-length. But a balance is struck while venturing into experimental and even electronic territories, while holding a line back to familiar rock structures. Their greatest strength may lie in their sonic versatility, with a possession of a defined sound. For a debut, that’s an electrifying accomplishment.
Keep up with the band and order Night Visions at the official Imagine Dragons site.
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.