Championed as one of the biggest bands on the planet, Imagine Dragonsâ€™ fourth record is a disappointingly drab offering, highlighting a ba
Championed as one of the biggest bands on the planet, Imagine Dragonsâ€™ fourth record is a disappointingly drab offering, highlighting a band who have reached their plateau.
Having released three critically-acclaimed studio albums since 2012, the Las Vegas arena-rock quartet Imagine Dragons surprised everyone with the announcement of fourth album, Origins. Â In contrast to their previous album, Evolve, Origins is an uninspiring body of work, with the band seemingly happy to churn out generic pop-rock crossover tracks.
Lead single and opening track â€˜Naturalâ€™ is one of very few positives to take away from Origins. With solemn backing vocals building tension from the very beginning, â€˜Naturalâ€™ seems to be an immediate statement of the bandâ€™s return to the aggressive vocal style of â€˜Radioactiveâ€™. Over the past few albumâ€™s, the American rock band have been criticised for delving too far into chart-pop territory. Detailing the need to be ruthless as time passes, Reynoldsâ€™ lyrics try to inspire the masses to stand up and fight for themselves.
As an opening track, â€˜Naturalâ€™ is a great album opener, but is severely let down by what follows. Whilst the slightly electronic production of â€˜Boomerangâ€™ balances intricate percussion rhythms with a smoother, reflective lyrical tone from Reynolds, it lacks substance and bite, feeling like an album filler at just the second track on the LP. â€˜Cool Outâ€™ is similarly well-balanced in production, moving between blissful synths, delightful percussion grooves and subtle piano breakdowns. The diversity in Daniel Platzenâ€™s drums offers potential for expansion moving forward but overall, itâ€™s not the most inspiring of tracks.
The stalking introduction in â€˜Machineâ€™ promises a great deal but is swiftly massacred with a vocal section in which Dan Reynolds seems caught in two minds. The influential track â€˜Mormonâ€™ has achieved a lot over the past few years, celebrating and promoting a wide range of LGBT+ causes amongst many others, but during â€˜Machineâ€™ Reynolds doesnâ€™t seem to know whether to opt for calming vocals or just launch into sharp, punishing screams creating an intensely uncomfortable chorus. â€˜Bad Liarâ€™ contains moments of poignancy and its self-reflecting message can be applauded, but its place on Origins feels only justified as the albums token lighter-waving moment for when the band go out on tour.
Not all hope is lost for the album though. The country-twang present in the introduction of West Coast rouses some spirits with the prospect of something different being offered by the group. Very much similar to the late Aviciiâ€™s â€˜Hey Brotherâ€™, â€˜West Coastâ€™ is rooted in country music, developing into a Lumineers-esque singe with a pleasing rolling beat within its chorus. For a second â€˜Digitalâ€™ feels more like a single from rave legends The Prodigy, than Imagine Dragons, but nevertheless itâ€™s a welcome change in which lyrics â€œWe are the face of the digital future / We are the digital heartbreakâ€ indicate the transformation of generations, whilst lines â€œWe donâ€™t want to change / We just want to change everythingâ€ pushes awareness on societal indecisiveness.
Moving on, â€˜Bullet In A Gun' contains a mystifying opening sequence, in which swirling off-beat synths intertwine with Platzenâ€™s unorthodox percussion rhythms. Itâ€™s an enchanting track with ensnaring vocals from Reynolds that twist and turns in between well-arranged instrumentation. The issue with listening to this track is that you canâ€™t help but feel frustrated. â€˜Bullet In A Gunâ€™ highlights the bandâ€™s ability to produce something inspiring to listen to, but for the majority of the record they opt instead for the creative lull of commercial pop. A key example is the cringe-worthy â€˜Zeroâ€™ - a happy-go-lucky track full of hand-clapping percussion. Whilst the songâ€™s instrumental breakdown is refreshing, the verses and choruses seemingly amalgamate into one single chunk of fast-paced indie-pop.
As with most albums which try and opt for commercial success instead of artistic integrity, Origins rapidly declines towards its end, with â€˜Onlyâ€™, â€˜Stuckâ€™ and â€˜Loveâ€™ all proving to be three subtly different hues of dullness, offering nothing of any actual substance.
Origins, as a whole, is a gruelling listen. The album very much sounds like the product of a band struggling to churn out pop-rock singles that gained them so much success over the past five years. With a title like Origins, thereâ€™s an ironic lack of originality from the band, especially in the first half of the record. â€˜Cool Outâ€™, â€˜Machineâ€™ and â€˜Bad Liarâ€™ can be applauded for their production, but itâ€™s tracks â€˜Naturalâ€™, â€˜West Coastâ€™, â€˜Bullet In A Gunâ€™ and â€˜Digitalâ€™ which provide the few sparks of ingenuity on an otherwise miserably unoriginal record.