Average Bear is a weekly track-by-track album review. This week, I review the 2015 album “Smoke and Mirrors” by Imagine Dragons.
Imagine Dragons is the type of band you hear all over the place, but never really care about. I, of course, am speaking for myself, but I know many of you will think the same. They tried to solidify their name in gold this time around, but ended up with a polished aluminium.
This isn’t an awful opening track, to be fair. It’s what you’d expect to hear: fast paced, electronically-based instrumentals with a funky chorus line to drive it home. The falsetto in the vocals throughout sounds nice, but honestly, it’s just a boring track. Nothing bad, but nothing special.
Why is this a single? If I were Imagine Dragons, I’d be hiding this song, not putting it center stage. It’s just ugly in every aspect. The instrumentals are drawn out so much that I feel like I’m being hypnotized by some scary chant. Vocally, it’s hit or miss, but overall it’s just a mess.
3. “Smoke and Mirrors”
Luckily, the album takes a significant uprising at this point. With a steady and soft-toned opening verse, the song swoons into the chorus and erupts into a strongly vocalized anthem. As a title track, it gives the album a good name. If only the remainder of the album was this well written.
4. “I’m So Sorry”
I must say I was surprised going into this one. With a title such as “I’m So Sorry,” I expected a slow, sappy ballad of love and forgiveness. Instead, we’re given a funky, western-inspired rocker. It was a nice change of pace hearing rough vocals and an actually self-performed instrumental track. This is a breath of fresh air.
5. “I Bet My Life”
Again, I do not understand at all why the band would choose this as a main single. This song has tempo and pacing issues riddled throughout and is just so generic. Have you heard any other Imagine Dragons song? Well, then you’ve heard this track, too. Generic vocals, boring instrumentals. I’ll pass.
This is such a weirdly awesome track. The song troves on a weird pace lined with quick-hitting drums that keep you in tune and is honestly the most interesting track on the whole album. It just goes to show that a simple song like this can go miles above an over-produced radio hit. This is a must.
At this point, whenever I hear a good track, I just expect the next to be awful. This assumption is true in this instance. What a mess of a song. Again, the band decides to add way too much into one song and there’s simply no purpose. From the whining vocals to the clustered drums and electronic effects, there’s no balance here. There’s a lot of potential, but it needs a lot of work.
8. “It Comes Back to You”
There’s a point on most albums where you can distinctly tell the band is just using filler. There is nothing new on this track. The drums use the essential slow-paced rim taps while the lighthearted electronic flow goes on. Vocals are the same here as they are every other time. Another uninspired generic attempt.
The album isn’t completely lost. Here, we actually hear some inspiration in the band’s portfolio. As the first true ballad on the album, it paints a nice atmosphere on the track that grips you throughout. The chorus is powerful and full of life, a nice change to hear on such a lifeless album. I appreciate this track tremendously.
This track really has nothing going for it, but nothing taking away from it either. The song feels alive and fast paced, but when it’s over it’s not memorable at all. Vocals are solid, but not special. It doesn’t deduct or add to this album as a whole, it is just another song.
Again, generic is the first word that comes to mind. There is nothing, and I mean nothing that I can point out in this track. Every aspect from the vocals to the instrumentation is just so cliche. I appreciate a lengthy album, but at this point, I wish it would have cut it a bit shorter. Sigh, two more to go.
12. “Hopeless Opus”
I have to give credit where credit is due, this track is actually pretty good. Seeing the title, I would have said hopeless was the perfect word to describe the remainder of this album, but I would have been wrong. There is a weird funk in the chorus that I catch myself grooving to every listen. The verses have a raw feel and it all feels authentic. Props.
13. “The Fall”
I was hoping that for a six minute long closing track, they would do something interesting. Please, anything! Nope. More generic, lifeless rehash. This is a looonnnngggg six minutes to get through. It drags on with no life and never seems inspired to close with a boom. It’s a shame. A solid closing track may have turned this album into a positive for me, but no such luck.
Imagine Dragons will surely be on the radio with some of these tracks, deserving or not, for many months to come. They are the type of band that has potential to be something more than your everyday pop artist, but instead accept the easy route and write generic formulaic snoozers. I must say, I am disappointed.