Imagine Dragons - Night Visions
Record Label: Interscope
Producer: Alex Da Kid
Release Date: September 4th, 2012
It's been just seven months since Imagine Dragons graced the alternative sound waves with their Continued Silence EP. It was a six track masterpiece akin to a theatrical trailer for a late summer blockbuster. Well, the wait is over. Hit the lights and grab your Snow Caps. It's time for Night Visions.
The Dragons have rejoined with all-star producer Alex Da Kid to finish exactly what they started with Continued Silence. This time around, however, they've recorded inside the infamous Studio X at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. This change of location, to their hometown, may have influenced the ambitious direction and sound for the album. All of the favorites from their last EP are present, but they've also brought on board "Hear Me" (Hell and Silence, 2010) and "Amsterdam" (It's Time, 2011). Night Visions, which takes its name from the band's late night forays into insomnia-induced writing binges, is both the best of Imagine Dragons and Imagine Dragons at their best.
"Tiptoe" carries the burden as the first newcomer to the Imagine Dragons discography. Because of this pressure, it may seem lackluster at first listen but it eventually grows to sidle nicely between veterans "Radioactive" and "It's Time." It continues the apocalyptic tones of "Radioactive" but features an almost industrial buzz before breaking out into a toe-tapping chorus.
"Amsterdam" and "Hear Me," which anchor the middle of the record with a beautiful homage to their past work, are a reminder that Imagine Dragons were not an overnight success. The former hosts one of the largest choruses on the record with vocalist Dan Reynolds delivering, "Your time will come, if you wait for it... it's hard, believe me, I've tried." Reynolds' voice really shines during "Amsterdam," which may just be the follow up to "It's Time" that listeners have been waiting for. "Hear Me," which starts off with a chipping riff from guitarist Wayne Sermon, features a hefty chorus as well. These were two obvious choices from their back catalog.
"Every Night" takes things down a notch, but the Dragons have proved that they shine just as bright, (if not brighter), when they dim the lights. This track was an early favorite of mine, and still holds up. Sermon shows off with a memorable solo which leads into a final chorus with Reynolds belting, "I'm coming home to you, every night."
It's around this time in the record when one may be thinking, "Okay, they're about done, right?" Well, "Bleeding Out" is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever, or will ever utter such nonsense. It's a pounding chant with powerful lyrics: "So I peel my skin, and I count my sins, and I close my eyes, and I take it in... I'm bleeding out for you."
The great thing about Continued Silence was its versatility. Imagine Dragons showed that they can cater to a wide range of audiences and genres and this is quite clear with songs like "Underdog." The Passion Pit-esque standout is as funky as it is catchy and shows a perusal into a more electronic territory.
"Nothing Left To Say" is everything that a closing track should be. In the chilling second half, Reynolds travels from frenetic shouting to haunting humming over acoustic strums and somber strings. This song is the perfect closer, satisfying the beckoning call left by opener "Radioactive."
I'm not sure if "Rocks" is supposed to be a hidden track or not, but it made for a great opener when I saw them a week ago. It possesses a distinct infectious quality that was caught in my head for days.
It's important to view Night Visions as a culmination of everything that is Imagine Dragons from the past years. Fans of their earlier discography might scoff at the absence of fresh material, but if you include the curious abundance of bonus tracks that are included, (there are almost as many bonus tracks as new songs on the album), there's nothing to fret about. Continued Silence had some of the best songs I've heard all year, so it just made sense to give them a proper send off.
When asked about the four previous EPs, vocalist Dan Reynolds assured listeners that the band wanted to make sure that they were ready for a full length: "Honestly, I'm so afraid of doing the first album. You only do a first album once and you have to live with it forever. So many bands I listen to have first albums that are my favorites. I really wanted to make sure I felt our band had really developed and understood who we are before releasing a first album." Source.
Riding on the wave of the success of Continued Silence and, specifically, "It's Time," it's impressive that Imagine Dragons could release a full length in just seven months. They've been extremely vigorous over the past few years and I hope that they continue for years to come.
I did focus on all of the new material for this release. Please read my review of the Continued Silence EP here for my take on those songs.
There are five bonus tracks in all (see below). I wasn't able to get my hands on the Best Buy tracks but, lucky for me, they're both taken from previous releases. Although all five are solid, I enjoyed "The River" and "Cha-Ching" the most.