Recently, I began to question the musical rock I’ve been living under (endearingly referred to as a “Linkin Park rock” by some). My first doubts began to surface when I played this “cool song I just discovered” for my girlfriend—“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons—and she sang most of the words right along with the track. It was at that point that I decided to get serious about checking this band out, because I was clearly in desperate need of escaping my musical rut.
The first thought that came to mind upon listening to the band’s full-length album, Night Visions, was that the jump from “Radioactive” to the rest of the album was a somewhat jarring one. Due to the nature of this single, I went in expecting an album full of electro-rock/dubstep anthems.
What I actually found turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Night Visions boasts nothing if not variety, as should be apparent in just the first handful of tracks. Following the heavier “Radioactive,” “Tiptoe” begins with a throwback to 80’s synth rock that appears occasionally throughout the album and leads into a more modern pop chorus, which is a common thread in the early tracks.
Imagine Dragons have been compared to many current bands, including The Killers (whose influence is perhaps most apparent in “Hear Me”), OneRepublic, and Arcade Fire. These are big names, to be sure, but what makes Imagine Dragons unique is their marriage of dark, ominous tracks with the upbeat melodies that expertly accent them. I certainly would not have believed this range of sounds to work together had I not heard it for myself on the album.
Despite forays into the lighthearted with “On Top of the World” and “Underdog,” Night Visions does not want for powerful songs. Unlike the opening track, which is relatively strong throughout its entire runtime, most of the other power songs start off soft to build to a powerful finish.
Two great examples of this are “Bleeding Out” and “Nothing Left to Say.”
“Bleeding Out” starts out with a western-themed guitar before opening the floodgates on a synthesized dance-heavy symphony. It’s something that could be played at a nightclub where a cowhide-clad hero was going down fighting, six-shooter in hand. As bizarre as that sounds, it actually plays out beautifully on the track. The song is consistently catchy and conveys a strong sense of emotion to the listener without being overburdening.
“Nothing Left to Say” sees Night Visions off with a fitting conclusion to this melting pot of sounds. Staying consistent with the rest of the album, an urgent rock rhythm plays over melancholy strings as it all builds throughout the track. It suddenly cuts to a slightly softer bridge which breaks into an intensely roaring finale with a highly cinematic sound, all of which is led out by the somber strumming of an acoustic guitar.
If you’re a fan of experimental melodic music with healthy—but not overpowering—doses of electronic flavor, I would definitely recommend checking these guys out. I would have liked to see a few more energy-packed anthems to bridge “Radioactive” a bit more to its fellow tracks, but I still fell in love with the album as a whole. Imagine Dragons certainly have a bold sound to share with us, and I look forward to where they take it in the future.