Las Vegas alt-rockers Imagine Dragons are back with Smoke + Mirrors -- the follow-up to their double platinum debut album Night Visions. Imagine Dragons could easily coast on this sophomore release and play it safe, but the band has taken some big risks which payoff more often than not.
The band released three singles in the build-up to the album’s release I Bet My Life, Gold, and Shots. I Bet My Life and Gold are radio/commercial friendly, but victims of over production – this was confirmed after hearing I Bet My Life live and enjoying the song so much more when some of the noise was stripped away. Shots opens with bold synths and Dan Reynolds backs off of his more aggressive vocals and rests easy using his upper register – it’s easily one of the best tracks on the album.
Imagine Dragons came out swinging with one rock anthem after another on Night Visions. Smoke + Mirrors is definitely worthy of arenas and stadiums, but overall the album is a bit more nuanced than their debut. Several songs are less in your face and really highlight the incredible musicianship of Imagine Dragons. Release and Second Chances feature beautiful harmonies, and without the unnecessary studio extras, the listener can really appreciate the lyrics.
This listener cannot wait to hear The Fall live – it’s goose bump inducing through my earbuds and will be a stunner when Imagine Dragons plays it with the energy of 20,000 fans backing them up. The album isn’t without the rock songs that put them on the map though – I’m So Sorry is a funky, sing-a-long anthem that is destined for radio play. Imagine Dragons have returned with a powerful second full-length album which cements their status as one of the best young bands out there.