Hello Radio, Meet Your New Friend
Adorned with a beautiful, Dark Side of the Moon-inspired cover, alt-rock outfit Imagine Dragons’ third album, Evolve, is a solid collection of songs, including the already radio-popular “Believer.” In terms of style, the band have remained consistent since their 2012 debut, Night Visions, and their die-hards breathed a collective sigh of relief. Of the eleven songs on the new album, ten of them fall into Imagine Dragons’ stadium rock/alternative feel, while the very last track, “Dancing in the Dark,” is more R&B than anything else; yet it’s arguably the best song on the album. Is this just because it is the most different? Maybe, but a good song nonetheless.
Through this album and their commercial successes, it’s evident that Imagine Dragons have perfected the formula for crafting radio-friendly tracks, allowing them to garner an ever-expanding fan base. While these songs are certainly catchy, they are not very structurally inventive; the verse, pre-chorus, chorus, shorter verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, chorus format is used for a vast majority of Evolve‘s offerings — with little deviation. Is that a problem? Not really, but considering that this is the group’s third album, one might imagine (no pun intended) that they would start to experiment more. Perhaps “Dancing in the Dark” is as far as their out-of-the-box writing goes, but fortunately it is a well-executed effort.
Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of the group, was undoubtedly influenced by hip-hop at some point in his musical career, as his lyrics exhibit MC-quality flow and delivery. He uses internal rhymes, near rhymes and a quick pace to set him apart from other alt-rock frontmen — best noted in “Whatever It Takes.” Just as Reynolds demonstrates excellent lyrical skill, he also uses very repetitive and simple lyrics, like in the chorus of “Mouth of the River.” While the “we are just at the beginning” message is optimistic and well-presented, the song’s title makes up most of the lyrics and it is an unnecessarily long chorus. “I Don’t Know Why” also has a happy message, with Reynolds preaching how love can unite people, especially if that means taking risks. Aside from that, none of the meanings behind the lyrics particularly stand out.
A non-lyrical criticism finds itself in “Yesterday,” in which Reynolds tries to blend his yelling style of singing (used in “Believer” and “Radioactive”) with a more typical style in the song’s chorus, and frankly it just sounds uneasy and even a little wince-inducing. Additionally, “Thunder” uses a strange vocal effect in the chorus that doesn’t fit with the group’s sound, although it could be perceived as the band being adventurous.
Tough to admit, but this album does not get better with successive listens (“Dancing in the Dark” is an exception). However, it would be foolish to shy away from the fact that these songs will be heard for quite some time due to their catchy, radio-friendly nature.