Imagine Dragons ‘Smoke +Mirrors’ Review: A Strong Follow Up To ‘Night Visions’
Imagine Dragons set the world ablaze with their 2012 smash hit “Radioactive.” Appearing in literally everything, from Video Game ads, to Beats by Dre commercials. “Radioactive” would go on to be nominated for two Grammys, and capturing one for Best Rock Performance. The album it was featured on, Night Visions went double platinum and pushed them to the forefront of the Rock and Indie Rock genres. They followed that project up with one of the most solid releases of 2015, Smoke + Mirrors.
Smoke + Mirrors, brings back the feel of Night Visions as a complete project, but without trippy tracks such as “Radioactive” and “Hear Me”. Bringing back the producer of the first album, Alex Da Kid and with a serious focus on being just a Rock project, Smoke + Mirrors makes a concerned effort to not be a victim of the so-called sophomore slump.
So far, the singles that have been released are: “Shots,” “Gold” and “I Bet My Life.” With “I Bet my Life” being debuted at the 2014 American Music Awards, and “Shots” seeing it’s debut over a full commercial break at the 57th Grammy Awards thanks to Target, it’s clear that the promotion of the album is covered. Both are solid stadium rock tracks that are sure to get heavy airplay on the radio. The other single, “Gold”, with its mysterious trip hop influenced opening, prepares you for something that it does not follow through on. As it begins, you are preparing for something similar to “Radioactive,” and as the cowbell and whistle arrive, it takes you into a clear-cut Modern Rock track. It is a good track nonetheless, and is well produced by Alex Da Kid.
Other notable tracks that you are almost certain to hear are “I’m So Sorry,” “Friction” and “Trouble”. “I’m So Sorry” infuses Garage Rock with a mellow bridge performed by front man Dan Reynolds and a riff by guitarist Daniel Sermon that sounds like a poor man’s Angus Young. The song is all over the place with what it wants to be and the chaotic output is a fun occasional listen. “Friction”, sounds like the beat of “Baby Boy” by Beyoncé that was left on the cutting room floor, upgraded with a bunch of guitar effects, a piano and aggressive vocals by Reynolds (“You can’t fight the friction so ease it off”). “Trouble” is one of the softer tracks on the album and sounds similar to the songs surrounding it such as “Dream,” “Hopeless Opus” and “It Comes Back to You”. However, it does not venture far from their sound so there is no need to “Pray for me brother,” because it does not make trouble.
Altogether the album does not venture far away from their sound and depending on how you look at it, is either a good or bad thing. On the plus, fans of their first project will be very pleased with the project. Major credit to Reynolds and his songwriting, as well as coming strong with his vocals for the album. Also, Alex Da Kid, who consistently put out great tracks, doesn’t fail to impress on Smoke + Mirrors. However, for those who are looking for something more, unfortunately, this album does not offer much more than that. But their sound is not necessarily something to knock at, as they have successfully garnered a fan base that accepts them for what they are.