Of All Pop Rock Bands, Imagine Dragons Have Set The Trend, Evidenced In The Satisfying Sound Of Album ‘Origins’

taylor
Written by taylor
/ 6 mins read

Imagine Dragons continue to be at the top of their game when it comes to writing and performing arena packers, just like a modern day Queen, and on Origins, the band may have even struck the same eclectic balance with respect to disparate genres that can be contained on one rock album, similar to Queen’s hit album The Game. Love them or hate em’, it has to be said that this successful Pop Rock band knows what they’re doing and what the widest group of fans will respond positively to. So, from a critical standpoint, it is always a challenge to assess an album whose clear design keeps their target audience in mind, over the artistic demands required through evolution. For instance, “Natural” is both annoying and awesome at the same time. This is Imagine Dragon’s “We Will Rock You”, and it is no surprise that it is a hit at halftimes across multiple sporting events since its release. The same-style slamming drums will motivate you to get back out on the court fired up, yet the hook, explosive as it may be, is sort of silly to behold. It strikes me as a swashbuckling way of delivering a chorus, with a fisted swinging up of the arms, in a ‘yo-ho-pirates-life-for-me’ affirmation. Dan Reynolds, a consummate singer, hits all off his rocky notes, but comes off extremely bratty and nasally – the type of aggressive expression that would probably make whomever it was addressed to roll their eyes, counting their blessing that they are no longer involved with such a man baby. The track pivots back and forth, typically, between low acoustic passages and these extreme, stadium-ready highs. This is designed to be ‘that’ hit, but its not nearly as cool sounding as previous titles such as the more recent “Thunder” – and rather, more like the structure of the annoying “Believer”. Which is to say, these cats keep making the same style ‘big’ songs.

Big Songs Are The Core Strength Of This Band

And yes, most of the Imagine Dragons tracks are big, as to be expected, but they go big in different ways, which is the strength of Origins as a whole. The standout is a track that didn’t pass mustard as a single, but should have – “Only” has a big-room-house complextro sound design that really works because it doesn’t just aim to copy the drops of the aforementioned genres, but instead incorporate that sort of electric energy into a Pop Rock delivery. This means that the music’s rhythmic flow is never interrupted in a lasting way by glitching gimmickry, and thus, the viewer can nod and fist pump along without the energy switching up too much, as tends to happen with overproduced dub step. The modern electro effects, loudest on the hooks, pair well with the smoother parts of the song – whether in the low moments or the build-ups. The lyrics and theme are deceptively simple for such a noisy song – exploring a man’s realization that “it’s just you and me / only / throwing out the key / just living in a dream.” He has fallen in love, is prepared to give this woman anything that she desires, and yet there is a certain “controlling” sexuality which states “my disaster, you're my only answer / you got me thinking that I could be your master.” Contradiction through rhyme? Well, it depends on the definition of ‘master’, but how can anyone earn the title of master when their life was just said to be a disaster – I mean, the chick is helping you out man, apparently, by saving you from yourself.

Must The Hit Songs Be So Conventional?

On “Zero”, I really wish Reynolds of Imagine Dragons would give up the rock-rap. Not that it can’t be done ‘well’, but it is a shame when it is done just ‘cuz’. The track would have benefited from some smarter decisions – and it suffers from that fact that every space seems to be packed with wordage. The word ‘zero’, which should have been uttered once, is repeated several times in succession, until a next rhyming word is found, and that pattern repeated. I say let the song and the words breathe. The verse parts contain an even more straightforward Hip Hop inspired delivery, falling pretty flat, though the song does pick up immensely when a Strokes type guitar riff jangles in, coupled with off-time triple claps, which add color to the beat. It is odd to think that bands such as these are well aware of the formulas that move audiences, but unfortunately, they go, in my opinion, for the lowest common denominator in almost ever situation. Kind of a whatever-gets-the-job-done attitude, when the talent and passion that such bands clearly have should be enough to draw upon.

II Really Celebrate The Positive Aspects Of This Album ‘Origin’, Yet Implore Imagine Dragons To Play To Authenticity With New Albums.

Every track has something right with it, and something wrong with it, and it really seems that this is by design. Genres as diverse as Pop, Rock, Synth Pop, Hip Hop and Reggae Fusion are all present – the latter sound especially present on another gem, “West Coast”. Heart warming acoustic guitar strumming serves as the bed for Reynolds lyrics, about his soul serving as a geographical sensation personified for the benefit of his lover; “I'll be your strong man, I'll be your West Coast / I'll be the sun, I'll be the waves, I'll be the one you love the most.” This type of writing is about as general as that which can be found in a forgettable country pop number – but who cares right - this is supposed to be pop music writing after all. The music itself is pretty enough, with a cozy, bonfire on the beach vibe, thanks to it’s folk-reggae style. And then come the prerequisite vocal ‘oohs’ and howls, yet, they come across not as cringe inducing as this critic would expect, somehow fitting quite nicely. Strange that this tired sing along device is allowed to exist entering 2019, yet one must concede that such chorale tropes serve as butter for Imagine Dragons’ pop toast.

2. Track List (12)

3. Official (12)

4. Live (3)

5. Featuring Remixes (7)

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9. Album Info

About

Origins is the fourth studio album by the American pop rock band Imagine Dragons, released on November 9, 2018 by Kidinakorner, Polydor Records and Interscope Records.
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Songwriter

  • Imagine Dragons

Label

  • Kidinakorner
  • Polydor
  • Interscope

Producer

  • Mattman & Robin
  • Alex Da Kid
  • John Hill
  • Joel Little
  • Jorgen Odegard
  • Tim Randolph
  • Ido Zmishlany
  • Kygo
  • Imagine Dragons