For all of the popularity Imagine Dragons has garnered over the past five or so years, there’s been an equal amount of backlash with regards to their stylistic choices. For mainstream listeners, their pop-rock approach continues to be accessible and catchy. For hardcore rock n’ roll fans who cringe every time they don’t hear a guitar riff, Imagine Dragons is a nightmare.
Their divisive methods have wreaked havoc once again in 2018, with the release of their fourth official album, Origins. Prior to its release, Dan Reynolds and company were reaping their benefits from another commercially successful summer project in Evolve, which included the chart-topping hits, “Thunder” and “Believer.”
While Evolve undoubtedly featured a variety of their signature “stadium hits,” Origins felt like a pointless attempt at re-capturing that same electronic-friendly sound; just without the hits this time. The result is Imagine Dragons’ laziest effort to date.
With all of the changes the band has made from a inward-perspective, their biggest constant encompasses an inability to progress, or say anything meaningful. It’s one thing to make a song like “Radioactive,” where the booming drums and raspy vocals formulate into an indelible practice in maximalism. It’s another to leisurely put together an album not even remotely eventful or distinguished within the genre.
But that’s what Origins is; a practice in mediocrity, to the point where one may wonder why the Las Vegas natives have gained so much prosperity. Essentially, with their newest project, the Imagine Dragons have become the Post Malone of their respective genre. Whiny, uninspired, and ultimately, uninterested.
Aesthetically-speaking, Reynolds attempts to re-spawn his previous hits in the most heavy-handed way possible. “Natural” is basically a flatlined extension of “Believer.” The chorus from “Machine” follows the same vocal patterns as “Yesterday.” And “Bad Liar” features almost the exact same beat tempo as “Thunder.” It’s not a coincidence that all of those tracks happened to be their most popular from Evolve.
When Reynolds isn’t plagiarizing his own work, the lead singer is just making the most indifferent and ponderous music in modern rock/pop. There’s absolutely no way someone could feel anything of value when listening to this. At face value, Origins tries to come off substantial, but in reality, there’s no charm to it, and that’s the worst part. Reynolds takes himself way too serious in a situation where he probably shouldn’t be.
Their one shining moment on the entire album is on “Bullet in a Gun,” where Reynolds actually matches the instrumentals with the stark emotion of his voice. The glitchy sound effects in the background aren’t as detrimental as one would expect, making for a surprisingly respectable song.
It’s not as if these tracks aren’t listenable either. Their averageness is what makes their intentions so painstakingly obnoxious. By the end of it, you really don’t care about any sentiment that they try to present to the masses. They’re simply going through the motions when it comes to their so-called “ballads.”
All of the topics Imagine Dragons tackles in Origins are all very real. Love and loss are concepts everyday-people face on a daily basis. Reynolds fabricates them to the point of obscurity however, as if there’s nothing to them. I guess it’s something to expect when listening to a band like this though.
Unfortunately, Imagine Dragons will most likely continue to put out uninteresting material for the time being. They’re still one of few rock bands that have major pop hits, and fans will still go to their concerts. Sure, it may have been cool when Reynolds first started putting projects like this out, but rock fans who detract this kind of music may have a point now. In a nut shell, Imagine Dragons represent the downfall of the genre’s popularity and uniqueness. There are so many other bands releasing more interesting music. So can we please finally turn our attention elsewhere