By Leanna Bornkamp
Glee wasn’t even their biggest break. Las Vegas natives Imagine Dragons have been enjoying unprecedented success with their first full-length album, Night Visions. Released on September 4, the album was on sale for $7.99 – and it is still in the Top 10 Albums on iTunes, nearly a month after its debut. It’s no surprise; there’s not a song on the album that would be out of place on the airwaves. Night Visions offers something for every kind of listening ear (as long as that ear is forgiving of an encompassing “mainstream” feeling), as the contrast in tracks exemplifies. The album-opening blockbuster “Radioactive” kicks it off with a merciless sucker punch at the 30-second mark, taking no prisoners as its raucous, dubstep-y underpinnings steamroll over an unsuspecting audience.
Although the power is consistent throughout the album, it is presented in drastically different ways. The underwater guitars of “Demons” distract listeners from the starkly “typical” sound of the progression (there’s nothing new or groundbreaking there at all), and the wall of sound created by frontman Dan Reynolds’ dense, potent vocals doesn’t give them much room for discontent. However, where Imagine Dragons leaves us wanting some musical originality, their song structures are often a pleasant surprise.
In “Demons,” there’s no breakdown to the song; a slightly adapted melody is enough of a change to keep the track moving. “Hear Me,” chock-full of 80s keyboard and fawning guitars, keeps the breakdown short – almost like the band doesn’t want to waste your time with a pause in the energy. “Radioactive” keeps us in the same boat, breezing through the slow sections without so much as a second look, as though to say, “we know you just want to jam, let’s keep it moving!”
Radio anthem “Every Night” is one of those songs that could turn listeners off to an entire album. With its melodramatic synths and repetitively sappy lyrics, the track shows just how much Imagine Dragons adores reveling in the predictable – it has the innovation of a classy Backstreet Boys track (if they had better electronic equipment). Still, there’s something about it that has listeners abuzz with their interest. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with reveling in the humdrum – and this band certainly makes up for the lapse in creativity with the sheer strength of their musical prowess.
Each and every one of these tracks is radio gold – and they’ve certainly been reaping the benefits. From restaurant background music, to satellite radio, to the awesome publicity break that was their spotlight on Glee, Imagine Dragons have been given a lucky shot to kick their career into high gear. “It’s Time,” the album’s first single, has the most predictable chorus – but it’s one that, paired with subtle mix additives and anthem like qualities, never gets old.
Sometimes, going by the book makes more of a splash than trying to break the mold. In Night Visions, even the weak songs sound full, and even the lame vocal melodies are pushed through the speakers with intensity – but these are the kinds of redeeming qualities that makes bands like these worth a listen.