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Intersection of Life and Faith

Imagine Dragons Stakes Its Claim

  • Glenn McCarty TheFish.com Contributing Writer
  • 2012 11 Sep
Imagine Dragons Stakes Its Claim

Artist: Imagine Dragons
Album: Night Visions
Label: Interscope

Imagine Dragons may have staked a claim for this year's most interesting moniker, and on its major label debut Night Visions, the Las Vegas foursome establishes itself as an adventurous and inventive act that takes enough steps beyond a tendency toward New Wave pastiche to become something more universally relevant. This makes Night Visions fit right in with a good segment of the current pop landscape, while bringing enough new to the table to be credible.

Their sound is a fascinating fusion of synth-fueled pop and mournful vocals with a flair for the dramatic, usually in the form of thudding percussion. There's definitely more than traces of The Killers in this crew. Combined with the band's Las Vegas roots, lead singer Dan Reynolds' Mormon faith, and the time the band spent recording at Battle Born Studios, you've got yourself an easy reference point. The able production and co-writing of Alex Da Kid (Nicki Minaj, Rihanna), steers Imagine Dragons away from being a genre act and into the mainstream.

Album opener "Radioactive" functions as a sort of prologue, with its plodding pace and creeping electronic background noise signaling a murky electronic fusion ahead. But that's not exactly what happens. The next track, "Tiptoe" is an 80's ballad that would be a bit too cotton candy for this crowd if it weren't so dang fun. "It's Time" isn't quite as deliberately New Wave, but it takes tracks like "Demons" and "Bleeding Out," both produced and co-written by Alex Da Kid, to move things into the modern era. Much more fun - and refreshingly light-hearted amidst the album's general gloom - is the jangly Train-meets-Paul Simon toe-tapper "On Top of the World," punctuated by gang vocals on the chorus.

While the identity crisis makes Night Visions a bit maddening, and might make some race for the skip button, it comes off strangely intoxicating. It's not a sure-fire winner. Others have done a more compelling job recently of fusing their seminal influences with contemporary sounds, but Imagine Dragons has talent and a way with hooks that rounds this album into form, and should have many finding their way back.

*This Review First Published 9/11/2012