Imagine Dragons Lacks Imagination

Imagine Dragons’ highly an­ticipated debut album, “Night Vi­sions,” came out last Tuesday. The band released their most recent EP last winter, which included the hit track “It’s Time.” It seems like the band rushed the studio process when “It’s Time” started gaining momentum last spring. They have about half of a really great album.

The Las Vegas-based rockers have a lot of different influences on the LP. The electronic ele­ment is really obvious on many of the tracks, but that doesn’t mean “Night Visions” is a dubstep production by any means. This band takes inspiration from many types of music, from hip-hop to folk. It’s clearly indie rock, but this band isn’t afraid to mix their genres.

The album opens with “Radio­active,” in which frontman Dan Reynolds sings “Welcome to the new age,” which is a fitting in­troduction to the disc with a very epic feel (it sounds like it should be in a Michael Bay film trailer). Their sound is different, and so are their ideas.

Rock music has a tendency to be dark. Anger, frustration and heartbreak have inspired some of the best rock recordings. Imag­ine Dragons wanted to derive an album from their depression, but they didn’t want to wallow in their darkness. They aimed to have an uplifting album about overcom­ing the hard times and they some­what succeeded.

“Tiptoe” is also a good song, though the intro sounds eerily similar to the opening bass line of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger.” However, it was sort of unneces­sary. The lyrics make it sound like a build up to a battle, which is the same thing the first track does.

This is one of the issues with “Night Visions” as a whole. The arrangement of the songs doesn’t necessarily make the most sense. The first half of the album con­tains the good songs, while the latter half contains the more for­gettable ones.

“It’s Time” is the third track on the album, which also talks about the beginning. Now I understand wanting an album to tell a whole story, I’m a fan of that idea, but after three songs it’s time to stop talking about starting and get moving. It’s a song about that fear of starting something new and sticking to your guns (“I’m never changing who I am”).

By itself, though, “It’s Time” is a great song and was a summer anthem for many. It even ended up being covered by Darren Criss in last week’s season premiere of “Glee.” Plus, you don’t hear a mandolin featured prominently on many mainstream tracks. This is the track where the folk influ­ence is most obvious.

The fourth track, “Demons,” sounds really upbeat until you lis­ten closely to the lyrics. The song is a warning not to get too close to the singer. He has a lot of demons and he doesn’t want to pull anyone down. “On Top of the World,” the fifth track, says the exact oppo­site. Reynolds sings, “If you love somebody/Better tell them while they’re here’cause/They may just run away from you.” Weren’t you trying to push people away a few minutes ago? 

Casting aside concerns of be­ing far too indecisive, both tracks are fun songs that you can dance to. “On Top of the World” has some vague reggae undertones that make the song have a really upbeat, summery feel. You’ll be hearing this song a lot if you’re a FIFA fan. It’s being featured on the 2013 video game.

While these tracks don’t feel like they are in the right order in terms of lyrics, they do feel right in terms of sound. The tracks build from a dark battle anthem to a light, dance tune. The songs individually are also really awe­some. However, from this point on, the album is a bit of a letdown.

“Amsterdam” is a reasonably forgettable track about self-doubt. The only thing that stands out is the bridge, which is only be­cause Imagine Dragons suddenly sounds remarkably like The Kill­ers.

“Hear Me,” “Every Night” and “Bleeding Out” are decent songs, but there isn’t anything special about them. They don’t have the hooks and ear worms that the first half of the album contained.

“Underdog” is a very elec­tronic song. The song’s heavy use of background vocals gives Dan Reynolds voice a little too much echo. They’re aiming for an uplifting song about being the underdog, but it feels a little con­trived, and the synthesizer is a bit distracting.

The concluding track is “Noth­ing Left to Say/Rocks” which is actually two tracks that don’t feel like they belong together at all. In the first Reynolds sings “If you could only save me/I’m drown­ing in the waters of my soul” while in the second he repeats “We fall/We fall apart.” First of all, for a band who wanted an up­lifting album, they fail in terms of lyrics. This makes the album end of a really depressing note. In terms of melody, “Rocks” has a fun beat, which is the opposite of the dreary “Nothing Left to Say.” I honestly don’t understand why the two songs are on the same track.

“Night Visions” is a good al­bum that could’ve been a lot better. The first half was a great build up, but the second half was a letdown. It seems like someone wanted to cash in on the success of “It’s Time” a little too soon. Luckily, this is why iTunes lets you buy individual songs.

Imagine Dragons is just the first anticipated album of the fall. Pink released her first full album since 2008’s “Funhouse.” The pop veteran’s new album, “The Truth About Love” dropped this week, the same day pop newcom­er Carly Rae Jepsen released her album, “Kiss.” The Killers also released their new album “Battle Born” this week. Fans are eagerly awaiting Green Day’s “Uno” next week, the first in a series of three albums to be released within the next few months. No Doubt will also be releasing their first album in 10 years on September 25, ti­tled “Settle Down.”
In October, we can expect re­leases such as Papa Roach’s “The Connection,” Muse’s “The 2nd Law,” Taylor Swift’s “Red,” and Shiny Toy Guns’ “III.”

Fall is also a great season for classic rock fans who are await­ing albums from Kiss (“Mon­ster”), Aerosmith (“Music from Another Dimension!”) and The Rolling Stones (“GRRR!”).

Let’s hope these albums can give us a bit more than Imagine Dragons.