After becoming one of the biggest groups in the world with their major label debut, Night Visions, Imagine Dragons is back with their follow-up album trying to avoid the notorious sophomore slump. My immediate reaction after listening to their new album, “Smoke + Mirrors” is that they did and they will. Dan Reynolds and his group will continue their reign on top of the alternative rock world with their new album thanks in large part to songs like “I Bet My Life” and their new single, “Shots.”
After sitting with “Smoke + Mirrors” for a couple of days it clear that this is the record that the group wanted to make. It’s not as catchy as “Night Visions” and the hooks in the songs aren’t all that similar to what was used on their last record. With this new album, Imagine Dragons is challenging their listeners to expand their sonic palette. Not that all of the songs on the first record sounded the same, but with “Smoke + Mirrors” all of the songs – from song to song – is vastly different. What you’re thinking, feeling, and experiencing changes extremely rapidly. I’ve never experienced an album like this before – especially not one that’s of this high of a profile.
There are at least eight songs on this album that I’ve grown attached to. “Shots”, “I Bet My Life” and “Gold” are all awesome singles, but the album tracks are cooler. “Polaroid” is one of the coolest songs that I’ve ever heard and I love the hook. The title track, “Smoke + Mirrors” and the song right after it, “For You” are the most sonically compelling songs on the record with the former having both blues and grunge elements being accompanied by Dragons-style percussion. I also love the acoustic craziness that is “Trouble.” It’s a chaotic hurricane of sound that Reynolds guides us through. Those songs are just a few of the songs that I’ve been listening to so far, I’m sure you’ll find your personal favorites on the album too.
There’s no slump for Imagine Dragons with “Smoke + Mirrors.” I didn’t think it was that possible, but I love this album more than “Night Visions.” The songs and hooks are more varied and it showcases a certain amount of fearlessness that I’m inspired by as a music fan. Just like the last record, you’ll listen to this album over and over.