I really like Imagine Dragons, while their music is not always the most ‘boundary-pushing’, it’s good for what it is- pop rock done right, but done better than anyone in music at the moment. Their huge commercially successful debut LP Night Visions was an onslaught on our charts, resulting in many reissues, deluxe versions and everything in between, as well as spawning a couple of mega-hits of course including Radioactive. Nearly three years later, Imagine Dragons are here with their sophomore album- Smoke + Mirrors.
The LA rock group again enlist the help of British producer Alex Da Kid, the man behind an array of hits such as Radioactive, Dr Dre’s I Need A Doctor and Eminem’s Love The Way You Lie, the correlation with Alex Da Kid’s work? Drums, and as with Imagine Dragons’ debut, there are a lot of them on Smoke + Mirrors. As I said with the group’s debut, this often pushes the album into the cheesy, X-Factor end of things where you can almost predict when certain elements are forthcoming on some songs.
However, Smoke + Mirrors does still have a surprisingly refreshing array of sounds, from The Black Keys‘ trademark blues rock on I’m So Sorry, to the chirrupy riff-heavy style of Two Door Cinema Club with Thief. One of the album’s highlights- It Comes Back To You, is a melancholic ‘doo-doo’ driven track that stems from the likes of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, it’s a chilled out song that sits with profoundness against the heavy drum-led majority of Smoke + Mirrors.
As mentioned, I’ve always been a fan of Imagine Dragons, and Smoke + Mirrors gives me no reason to change this opinion. The album does definitely bleed into the higher regions of cheese, what with explosive crescendo of drums accompanying the hook on Dream, but deep down I think we all love a bit of that sometimes. While Smoke + Mirrors won’t be winning album of the year from a critical point of view (although I bet it gets the nod at the GRAMMYs) it’s still a fun project that certainly steps up and away from Night Visions, while still possessing that Imagine Dragons likeability.
Verdict – WWW