Saturday, September 22, 2012

Imagine Dragons – “Night Visions”


From the first minute I heard Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time” I thought they had the elements to be pretty big. Here’s a band that’s probably different enough to be considered alternative rock, has the vocals to appeal to mainstream rock, and has the melodies necessary to garnering a surprise pop hit.

So here’s where the blog steps away from indie weirdness for a moment to deal with a potential crossover hit. Word on the street (aka, my brother) says that Imagine Dragons have managed to be covered by Glee only weeks after their debut album was released. I’m also pretty sure I’ve heard them in multiple trailers already. Since the Las Vegas foursome brings the synth-tinged modern rock, the obvious comparison is The Killers. Imagine Dragons are grittier on the vocals and generally more sensitive, which I believe will keep them from ever getting serious critical credibility.

Night Visions is inconsistent, but it’s highest moments are excellent. “Radioactive” is pounding and powerful, and could have some staying power. The hazy layered vocals and production values actually help this track soar. “It’s Time”, a personal favorite, rings through hammered dulcimer and hand claps to present a stirring rock piece. Lyrically vague yet relatable, an us-against-the-world vibe, and uptempo we-can-do-this attitude? It could be big, in a popularity sense.

I was surprised that beyond the first two major releases there was actually still plenty here to like. “Tiptoe” sandwiches the two more obvious hits with a synth-heavy track built for live audiences. “Amsterdam” lighten the mood a touch, “Every Night” plays up the sensitive side almost to fault but manages to sway even my own lonely heart, “Bleeding Out” brings back the hazy vocals of “Radioactive”, while “Underdog” breaks the mold entirely. “Underdog” is not my favorite track here by any means, but their ability to suddenly shift from the fringes of over-sensitive rock to a synth-driven oh-oh-oh-oh-aaaahs of “Underdog” says a lot about why I’m willing to let my indie guard down here. So yeah, the lyrics of “Demons” may be stupid, “On Top of the World” might sound straight out of 1998, and a nine minute dual track to close out an album like this may be unnecessary on this kind of album. However, I’m guessing that you’ll find something to like here. Call it the 2012 version of NEEDTOBREATHE, offering just enough of something different for me to let it get into my life.

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