After winning several battle-of-the-band competitions in 2008, Las Vegas-based Imagine Dragons released four EPs, entitled “Imagine Dragons,” “Hell and Silence,” “It’s Time” and “Continued Silence” before signing a record deal with Interscope Records and releasing their debut album, “Night Visions”, on Sept. 4, 2012.
In the first week, the album sold more than 83,000 copies, which is the highest charting for a debut album since 2006. And it isn’t difficult to see why “Night Visions” is selling well. “Night Visions,” while relatively short at 43 minutes (compared, for example, to Mumford and Sons’ new album “Babel,” timing in at 63 minutes) the album carries the band’s sound very well with melodies and rhythms that get stuck in your head, in a good way. Described as alternative rock, the band seems to be more indicative of the folksy music that alternative rock stems from, with lyrics that draw the album further onward, ever onward.
The first track from “Night Visions,” “Radioactive”, starts with a simple acoustic melody before dropping a heavier bass line than one might expect from the beginning notes, but the singer can carry the changes well with a smooth and confident baritone. The song builds itself around each of the different voices, from the drums to the guitar to the singers themselves. The song feels like it is building to a destination—perhaps the “new age” referred to in the lyrics—until the song suddenly ends, leaving the listener with a sudden vacuum of silence.
Another notable track is “It’s Time,” perhaps more recognized than the other tracks following Darren Criss’ cover of it on Glee. The instrumentals are minimal, mostly a mandolin through the majority of the verses with the rest of the band joining in on the chorus. The lyrics are strong and invoke the singer’s passion. In a similar vein to “It’s Time,” “On Top of The World” is a sprightly song that includes a bright, cheerful whistle that belies the tone of the lyrics: “If you love somebody / Better tell them while they’re here / ’cause they just may run away from you.” The lyrics continue in an uplifting message that is nice to hear in a stress- and work-filled life that many students lead.
Unfortunately, the album becomes slightly more forgettable from there. “Night Visions” is very easy to listen to and to recommend, but none of the other eight tracks on the CD are as memorable as the three I mentioned. The other songs seem to be uncertain, almost emulating other bands and songs that are popular. However, that is not necessarily bad in a debut album; it’s rather an endearing trait. Imagine Dragons seems to sing what they think they will enjoy and will please their fans, and it is, all in all, a very well done album. It will be interesting to see how the band progresses, hopefully by finding their niche without sacrificing their peppy, uplifting sound.