“Smoke + Mirrors” by Imagine Dragons: Album Review

Last week, Imagine Dragons released their second album, Smoke + Mirrors. With three singles off the album already release, the album has held a lot of promise in my mind for quite some time. So without further waffling, let’s head on into the meat of the album and see what Imagine Dragons have in store for us with this album.

“Shots” starts off the album with an echoing but energetic mix of melody and vocals. It carries itself with ease, keeping a steady pace and drawing in the listener with ease, making it a great track to open the album with. “Gold” is the second track on the album and it slows down the pace a bit, making the music seem a bit more confrontational as it plays. There is something almost eerie about feeling of the song and it really pulls me into the song and makes me feel out the underlying story that the song has for me. “Smoke and Mirrors”, the titular track of the album, and it slows down the pace of the album considerably at first, but there is the hint of a slow build as the song continues. There are some moments where the song simply explodes in energy and noise for a few seconds, but the overall feeling of the song remains quite slow and gentle. There’s just such and interesting mix of extremes in the song that it easily ranks as one of my top favorites on the album. “I’m So Sorry” marks the fourth song on the album. It starts off as if it’s playing in the distance, but it quickly gets louder. The song overall has a harder beginning than the other three songs so far on the album, and that aura of hard continues through the track, making it stand out from the other tracks with ease.

“I Bet My Life” has been previously reviewed by me, so I won’t be spending too much on it. “Polaroid” is the sixth song on the album, and it takes the tone of the album down a second, moving along at a slow and steady pace. The rhythm and beat of the song drive it along easily, even with the soft build of energy that slowly turns the tone of the song completely. It’s easily my favorite track off of the entire album. “Friction”, the seventh track on the album, starts off with a twangy sound in both the instruments and the vocals. Both slowly build and shift in nature, but the overall minimalist twanging sound stays the same through out the song, whether it’s in a state of simplicity or an explosion of vocals and instruments. The song is an interesting mix of sounds that really keeps the attention focused on the track even during it’s quiet moments.  “It Comes Back to You” starts off quietly and builds quick enough, but keeps to a more melodic sound. It’s a welcome break from the songs that have made up the album so far, and it’s pacing easily drives it along. “Dream” is the ninth song on the album. It starts of soft and slow, but builds in beat and rhythm quickly enough, the vocals being slightly overpowered in some places at first, before they grow and take over the entire song, practically demanding to be heard. The song maintains an easily balance, not letting the vocals be too strong for too long but not letting them fade entirely. It’s an incredibly vocally based track the further in you get to it and it’s positively beautiful.

“Trouble”, the tenth song on the album, starts off with an energetic and borderline annoying blend of melody and rhythm that quickly gets overpowered by the vocals and instruments. The song remains incredibly energetic and fast paced, pulling the listener along with it at a rate that seems almost dizzying at points. It does slow down in the middle, but it quickly amps the energy back up before the song ends. The eleventh song on the album, entitled “Summer”, keeps to the softer more upbeat melodies that have peppered the latter half of the album, though it’s slower seeming than the preceding track was. It has an incredibly dream like feeling to it, and it’s easy to listen to because of this. “Hopeless Opus”, the twelfth track on the album, starting with a sparser feeling but containing a lot of different effects and sounds as it leads into the vocals. The vocals give the song direction and help pull the menagerie of sounds together and making the sparse and airy beginning a thing of memory. Even within the unification of sounds there’s still a lot of different features that could easily be focused on, but the entirety of the song seems to work as one well oiled machine, and it’s positively gorgeous. “Hopeless Opus” is easily another of my favorite songs on the album. “The Fall” is the final and longest song on the album. It is incredibly light and airy at the beginning, almost as if it’s a mix of different chimes as it builds to the stronger percussion instruments. All of the instruments seem to fall away as the vocals entire, and the overall rhythm of the song starts to drive it along as the various features start to blend together as the track continues. The entire track is a beautiful mix of various sounds and effects tied together as if they were simply one entity to begin with. It has none of the well-oiled machine like feeling of “Hopeless Opus”, and yet it still doesn’t feel like it could sacrifice any one of the sounds, effects, or techniques that are littered through the song.

All in all, the album has quickly become one of the albums that I play on repeat when I’m looking to bring some music into my normally quiet world. It easily blends together a lot of different effects and has a vast variety to offer a listener. I definitely recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t already, because Imagine Dragons have continued to deliver great music with this album.

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