Two great slices of bread holding together a sandwich with a pretty so-so filling, Patrick Hanlon is left hungry by Imagine Dragons' debut.
Ever get a really big craving for a sandwich, salivating for the first bite, lured by the promise of fresh ingredients and the whiff of greatness? Imagine Dragons’ debut album seemingly promised all of the above but what I tucked in to was two great slices of bread holding within a pretty so-so filling.
The two pieces of bread in question are the opening and closing tracks of Night Visions. Lead single Radioactive belts out as a great opener, while currently climbing up the Irish single charts. The closing track, Working Man (which seems to be a bonus on their European release) is like a softer Red Hot Chilli Peppers tune, which is catchy and lingers nicely as a fine conclusion to an album.
However, there’s a good chunk of five or six songs in the middle of this album with no substance. Nothing snares the listener, and without a good connection most aren't even worthy of a second listen. They mesh into the pool of generic soft rock songs, the likes of which soundtracked many a filler scene in teen shows like The O.C, The Hills and Laguna Beach back in 2007.
If you’re into the husky shrieks of Bressie and a band akin to The Blizzards, bringing a lot of angsty guitar and heavy production, then you are going to enjoy what Imagine Dragons are serving up.
The banjo-tinged It’s Time is a track worthy of a mention too. Suitably released just shy of festival season, it’s a substantial anthem of sorts which should be popular throughout summer, complete with a defiant, passionate chorus and a sing-along reprise.
Throughout listening there’s a hefty One Republic sound going on, as well as subtle nuances of The Killers. Interesting to note that both Dragons and Killers hail from Las Vegas. Coincidence or not, they will inevitably get compared, though it’s clear that The Killers have far more substance in their sound than their fellow Nevada rockers. Experience and success may be on The Killers’ side, but the Dragons really are just doing what the likes of The Killers and One Republic have already done, and better if we're splitting hairs, years before.
Lead singer Dan Reynolds has an impressive and commanding voice, capable of husky rock choruses and sensitive yet controlled verse solos. What’s more, his style flits and fits effortlessly within the varied folk, rock and pop arrangements throughout the record. He has the twang of Anthony Kiedis, the range of Brandon Flowers and the production and writing ability of Ryan Tedder.
Appetite only somewhat quenched, there's a lingering taste that this album has been consumed before. It’s a confident debut, but there’s nothing new or especially unique about their sound. It’s likely to soundtrack a slew of summer festival montages just like other samey soft rock anthems have before, but beyond that is there a future? I’m not convinced by this band’s Visions.