Just one year after ‘Evolve’, the Las Vegas born Imagine Dragons have already churned out their fourth studio album, ‘Origins’. Peppered with pop cliches and at times tiring vocals, I think this album may be everything an Imagine Dragons fan would love. But for people not in on the hype, I couldn’t really tell you what it offers for the rest of us.
Even if I’m not a fan of a particular band, I can still appreciate good music. My experience of Imagine Dragons stretches as far as their hit ‘Radioactive’ (mostly because of the Kendrick Lamar version), and the fact they seem to provide the soundtrack for every teen movie going. BUT, I listened to ‘Origins’ with an incredibly open mind.
What is indisputably good about this album is it’s production. The clean, yet glittery production style coupled with the drum lead leaves the tracks sounding absolutely huge. ‘Natural’ starts with layered hums and stripped back vocals, before the drums bring with them a sound which can only be described as massive.
‘Bad Liar’ is another success. Although much more modest than ‘Natural’, this pop ballad has a real sense of loss and desperation at its core, making it one of the only tracks on the album I really felt. Love songs ‘Cool Out’,‘Stuck’ and ‘Real Life’ have the same sort of vibe. Offering a break from some of the more aggressive tracks, they add well needed ambience to the album’s atmosphere and do so quite impressively.
This is where it gets a bit tricky.
When I say this album is uninspiring, I guess it doesn’t grab me by the face and tell me to keep listening. ‘Boomerang’ I just didn’t really understand. It sounds like it isn’t quite finished. At the points where I expected to be blown away with dazzlingly strong drums like I have been on some of the bands other tracks, they simply weren’t there to dazzle me.
The chanty ‘Machine’ quite frankly sounds like something you’d hear at a summer camp or a year six trip to PGL. However, instrumentally its one of the few glimpses we get on ‘Origins’ as Imagine Dragons the rock band.
Shortly after this we meet the folky side of the band in ‘West Coast’ which is quite successful, providing more stripped back vocals, making the guitar the star. THEN, a few tracks down the line we’re met with their electro-pop fusion with ‘Bullet In A Gun’ and ‘Zero’ both of which are quite uncomfortable in their delivery.
I think the problem with this album is that Imagine Dragons have pushed their aversion to genre conformity to the point where I was left feeling quite confused. They fall under the ‘Alternative’ category on Apple Music, but they one the Grammy for Best Rock Performance, yet this is more of an electro-pop album than anything else. I’m all for genre neutrality, but surely there has to be some sort of identity Imagine Dragons have that I’m missing?
There is no denying that these guys are good at what they do, and there are certainly some impressive tracks on this album. However, ‘Origins’ as a whole almost feels a bit rushed and slightly unfinished- like a cake without any icing.
Their blazing success has propelled them to new heights and opened them up to a mass market, and it almost feels like they’re trying to please too many people. In a year since ‘Evolve’ they’ve managed to create something in ‘Origins’ which has gorgeous moments, but lacks a certain amount of cohesiveness and identity.