Surprise! That New Imagine Dragons Album is Fire!

(Evolve is available now in stores and on all major streaming services.)

I’ve been a fan of Imagine Dragons since 2012 when I first heard “It’s Time”. I didn’t think about them having longevity. Hell, I didn’t even think about them having a 2nd hit single. Then “Radioactive” hit, then “Demons” hit, then “On Top of the World” hit and suddenly they were the biggest rock band in the world, which turns out isn’t that hard to do. After that, every wanna-be rock-star was on American Idol and The Voice trying to recreate the ultra-produced delivery of “Radioactive” and ID themselves, were poised to be the next The Killers. They were so big, similar artists like X Ambassadors were flung into the spotlight. Here’s the point where I started to publicly express my feelings about their popularity.

Sure, I technically still liked the band, but I didn’t understand the obssession with their music. It’s far inferior to some of their contemporaries, and repeatedly hearing their 4 hit tracks blugeoned into my ears got old, really quickly. Luckily, their second album, the appropriately titled Smoke and Mirrors was quite the dud. Like a super dud. Sure, on the strength of the brand, it went platinum, but there were no nationwide pop radio hits. The storm was over, I could go back to just liking the band, without all the snarky bitterness. Then 2 years later, 2017, I hear “Believer”, and suddenly the game had changed.

“Believer” is the lead single from, yet another appropriately titled, 3rd album, Evolve. They quickly followed that banger up with the strong “Thunder” and before Evolve hit shelves, both “Whatever It Takes” and “Walking the Wire” hit streaming services. All of these tracks were huge stadium anthems that eclipsed everything they had recorded to date. Especially “Thunder”, it aggressively tested the idea that slow songs have to be low energy. Imagine Dragons were actively trying to change their narrative, almost like they had heard my criticizsim.

Now on to Evolve itself. It’s a tight 10 tracks crafted as almost a complete electro-pop, snyth-rock experiment. Gone are the Mumford and Sons-lite tropes that drowned their previous efforts in genre-hell. The opening track “I Don’t Know Why” launches the band into a groove they’ve never had before. Crunchy bass, keyboard driven, EDM with a haunting almost Michael Jackson Thiller-era attitude suits Dan Reynolds’ voice perfectly. Dragons’ songs have always been big. That’s always been their strength, but they’ve been hand-cuffed by the bleak and oft-boring indie-rock sound.

Even the odd “Yesterday” feels modern in a respectful way and benefits from being sandwiched between two digestable tracks “I’ll Make It Up to You” and “Mouth of the River”. Nothing on Evolve is held back by the band’s past, but it also doesn’t not sound like ID. A majority of the album could easliy slot right into a pop radio playlist without anyone questioning it.

I like to compare ID to Def Leppard. Both of them ended up floating to the top of their repective decade’s by recording booming, larger than life songs. It’s only appropriate that ID finally recorded their Pyromania at the same point in their career as Def Leppard did. This “boom” in their sound that they’ve perfected on Evolve finally feels like it’s found its place in the world. Evolve so good…so good. It’s always easier to criticize bad albums, and to nit-pick bad ideas or faulty execution. Evolve is great start to finish, so much so its hard to decribe.

Bands like Fitz and Tantrums, Two Door Cinema Club and Grouplove took 3 albums before truly perfecting thier sound, and against all odds, Imagine Dragons can add their name to this list. If you have ever liked ID, or if you are looking for a tremendouly singable album that you can digest in a quick 40 minutes, Evolve is more than worth a listen.

Verdict: It almost pains me to say this, but the new Imagine Dragons album is amazing and me having this glowing of an opinion of it, is nothing short of a miricle.

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