November 9, 2018 Imagine Dragons – Origins (Album Review)
Since releasing their debut album, Night Visions, in 2012, Imagine Dragons has been one of the biggest Rock acts on the mainstream circuit. First gaining attention with the song “It’s Time,” it has been a non-stop freight train of chart-topping singles, platinum-selling albums, and award-winning for the Las Vegas, Nevada natives. A rise the likes of we have not seen in a while, their sound transcends Alternative Rock and has launched them into Pop leaders in a relatively short span of time.
Now, to the surprise of many, Imagine Dragons are back with a new full-length album a little over a year after Evolve. The latest effort, Origins, out Friday, November 9th, is their fourth overall LP and comes attached to the number 1 hit single “Natural” along with the buzz of Disney’s forthcoming film Ralph Breaks the Internet, with lead single “Zero.” Prime for major commercial success, before even being launched, does Origins live up to the band’s previous efforts?
That all depends on who you ask and what they are necessarily looking for. As stated, Imagine Dragons has certainly not been shy about their Pop Rock sound, even though they have always possessed enough edge for them to hang within the Alternative Rock genre. They have seen their stock rise exponentially over the year, in fact, they are the top-streaming Rock band of 2018. Not an accomplishment to take lightly, essentially, Imagine Dragons has cracked the code for the modern music world. All this said, how easy is it for talented songwriting team of Dan Reynolds (vocalist/multi-instrumentalist), Wayne Sermon (lead guitar/backing vocals), Ben McKee (bass/keyboards), and Daniel Platzman (drums) to churn out another solid record so quickly?
The answer is not so direct, but Origins should really be considered a sister album to Evolve – the titles alone imply such. Consisting of twelve new songs, clocking in at just over 40 minutes of music, the album is certainly not weak or boring. Although, it could be argued it does lack a certain cohesion, and dare we say, at times sound perhaps too polished. Yes, Imagine Dragons has certainly been crowned Pop Rock kings, but in the past have shown a bit more edge than what Origins showcases. The songs on a whole are good and engaging to listen to, but at times it feels like each is meant to act like a piece of movie soundtrack or individual singles, opposed to a collective record.
In their defense, it is certainly a single driven market, and there is nothing wrong with aiming to produce an album full of hits, so who can really knock that approach? Yet, still, there does seem to be some aggression lacking with the overall vibe of Origins. There is the lead single “Natural,” which starts it all off with a bang, while the tempo is kept up with both “Boomerang” and the more guitar driven “Machine.” Then the more synth “Cool Out” stands out strongly on the first half of the record while “Bad Liar,” the folky “West Coast,” and soundtrack “Zero” make up a solid midway section. Thereafter, the song “Digital” could very well be an anthem for the new generation, but production-wise, seems a little overwhelming at times. Interestingly enough, “Only” is arguably the best song of the album with the most crisp, clean production and irresistible catchy nature.
This is all while the album closes out kind of a down note with Pop radio ready “Stuck” and “Love,” a closer which certainly has a wonderful message entwined within it. The irony is the deluxe edition of the record features three very compelling, strong tracks – “Birds,” “Burn Out,” and “Real Life” – which could easily fill in on the standard edition, making Origins even stronger. All this in mind, Origins is certainly not a bad record, it is actually very good and has moments of brilliance, but in whole, feels overproduced. Still worth listening to various times, and recommended to be purchased with the deluxe tracks, Cryptic Rock gives Origins 3.5 out of 5 stars.