Imagine Dragons consist of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, lead guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist and keyboardist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzmen. If you don’t know them by name you will definitely know them from their signature tune: ‘Radioactive’. On this, their third album Evolve, they are looking to replicate its success.
‘I Don’t Know Why?’ introduces an icy synth sound before presenting a pulsing soulful musical vista suggesting that this is a band in control of their musical direction. The production is crisp and confident and further foregrounds the skill and talent on display. ‘Whatever It Takes’ makes use of a big four to the floor beat and massive choruses that are made to get a crowd singing along. Okay, the subject matter of the lyrics cover familiar ground of love and angst but it doesn’t detract from the strong opening.
Beats are front and centre on ‘Believer’. However, a delicious picked chord sequence dances over the whole and William Ernest Henley’s Invictus is paraphrased to good effect on this tale of keeping faith. ‘Walking the Wire’ changes the pace down to ballad setting.
‘Rise Up’ remains in the same territory, anguished vocal delivery doesn’t disguise the fact that the songs are basically saying the same thing: love is hard or ‘hey I’ve struggled to get here’. For an album called Evolve it needs to do so on different levels. By the time ‘I’ll Make It Up To You’, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Mouth Of The River’ come into view it begins to feel that the band are set to automatic.
‘Thunder’ reveals the strengths and flaws of the songwriting: on one hand we have excellent production, big beats and confidence in abundance and on the other a perfunctory lyrical idea of ‘look at me I’ve achieved my dream’. Well done there, but it just gets a bit tiresome. ‘Start Over’ arrives with an African rhythm and has an addictive groove and is a slice of perfectly pitched pop. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ connects on a more emotional level and the vocal delivery is perfect, it is a stand out track that shows what Imagine Dragons are capable of when they put there mind to it.