I'm not going to lie here. I root for Imagine Dragons.
I loved Imagine Dragons' 2012 debut 'Night Visions', which featured the bombastic 'Radioactive', uplifting numbers 'It's Time' and 'On The Top Of The World', to the moody deep-cut rockers like 'Amsterdam', 'Tiptoe' and 'Hear Me'.
Imagine Dragons was able to deliver on a successful template of arena rock that had been missing in the mainstream music consciousness due to U2 taking extremely long breaks in between albums and Coldplay putting out more 'popish' material as of late.
'Night Visions' was a huge commercial success, selling two million copies in the U.S. and over seven million worldwide. Even though Imagine Dragons' 2015 followup, 'Smoke + Mirrors' didn't feature a hit single or sell as well as its predecessor, I appreciated how the band incorporated folk and gospel influences into their alternative rock rhythmic sound. To this day, 'Night Visions' remains the better album, but 'Smoke + Mirrors' is a solid record that didn't do as well commercially.
Check out my review of 'Smoke + Mirrors' here
Well. Two years later and Imagine Dragons have released 'Believer' as the lead single for their upcoming third album. How did it turn out?
...I'm kind of torn on this new track.
|Reynolds sells the lyrics|
with a passionate vocal performance.
I like SOME of the lyrical content. At points, the lyrics seem to be describing lead singer Dan Reynolds overcoming depression and anxiety when he was young and using his songs and music as inspiration to try and make an impact and a connection toward others going through similar situations.
And I like how the chorus defiantly states that Reynolds is going to confront the pain from his past or his present. But it's not clear to me what exactly the pain is making Reynolds a believer of.
Is it a believer of the rials and tribulations of life? Overcoming self-doubt? I'm not sure it will come across as clear for the listener. The rest of the verses are filled with a bunch of cliches, but Reynolds on-point flow through several of the couplets created a nice groove and allowed the verses to flow into one another.
The thing I don't like about this track is the instrumentation.
I know that Imagine Dragons have utilized beats and other hip-hop stylized instrumentations since they formed a working partnership with producer Alex Da Kid on their 2012 EP 'Continued Silence.' A song like 'Radioactive' is the perfect example of what those kinds of beats with an electronic buildup and drop, can add to a song. It can add aggression, urgency and a layer of musical depth that can potentially match well with the lyrical content.
But the difference between 'Radioactive' and 'Believer' is that 'Radioactive' had an instant melody with the vocal structures and the interweaving guitar and bass lines, which was able to connect with the background beats and create such a gut punch for the listener. At the time, nothing like this was being played on the radio. It was raw and aggressive, but also catchy.
There isn't a catchy enough melody for 'Believer' to stand out.
I rarely hear any riffs or progressions from guitarist Wayne Sermon and bassist Ben McKee. 'Believer' feels like a Reynolds and drummer Daniel Platzman collaboration because those are the only contributions that I can hear consistently throughout the song. When the song grow into its explosive chorus, even though Reynolds is doing a great job at belting out some of those high notes, the rest of the instrumentation can't catch up and the song leaves me wanting more, not in a good way.
Even with their early success. I root for Imagine Dragons as I would root for an underdog football team. There are times when they don't receive much respect from the rock community and others where they don't receive much respect from the pop world. I enjoyed their first two albums so I'm going to give Imagine Dragons the benefit of the doubt for their upcoming third album. I like the electronic buildups they are continue to create, but there has to be some kind of melody associated with it.
RATING: 2.5 Out Of 5 (**1/2)
Don't let us down, Imagine Dragons. You are one of the few acts that can help keep rock on the charts and on the radio.
Let me know what you thought about Imagine Dragons' new single, 'Believer.' Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.