Las Vegas four-piece Imagine Dragons are probably best known for their incredibly overplayed songs “Radioactive” and “Thunder”. They fuse genres from Pop, to EDM and Hip Hop on one LP, and strike up a wide angle of important topics like world peace, depression and love. A mixture that might sound intriguing, but the outcome is a messy and uncreative sounding fourth studio album co-written by Mattman & Robin, who turn Origins into just another one of the Swifts, Grandes, and what’s-her-name-again charts tracks.
After their debut album Night Visions, which was lauded by critics and won several music awards, the following Imagine Dragons albums are mostly compilations of dull pop tracks filling in the gaps between the two pop hits on each album. Looking at the numbers, Imagine Dragons are a huge commercial success and regularly pack huge stadium arenas. Yet aside form catchy choruses and the mandatory “woah-ohs” the Dragons song writing skills are limited. And just like expected Origin is not short of mass-market rock anthems, but disappointingly unoriginal.
The opener “Natural”, and the preleased single “Machine” are the most promising of the fifteen tracks. I can already hear their Hip Hop influenced synth-rock blasting from the speakers of every single store. Dan Reynolds voice is fierce and powerful and gives the songs an epic twenty-thousand-teenagers-singing-along touch.
The other thirteen tracks are not really worth mentioning in particular. They all seem to blend into the bland mix of 2018 charts music. In this sea of synthesiser, auto tune, and lyrics made up of the same two sentences on repeat, Origins fits right in and the Imagine Dragons become another one of the faceless artists all sounding alike.
It is not like the outfit did not have any potential – most of the songs start off with an interesting and unique beat, but then are ruthlessly forced into the mainstream pop choruses. And Dan Reynolds strong voice is as well, always a pleasure to listen to. He can shout, rap and sing in multiple octaves and makes the Imagine Dragons sound like a giant stage act, even on the record. Still merely a good voice doesn’t make for good music. Origins lacks imagination especially in the song writing section. The tracks about love stories, and (ironically) non-conformism, are like most other pop songs using probably the same 200 words, and the same five rhymes musicians resort to nowadays. In a language that contains 171,476 different words it is a pity that the only ones we can still rhyme are “today” and “away”, and “me” and “be”.
For a band who would love to be deep, the Imagine Dragons prove that they are just the opposite. Origins is a collection of fifteen shallow, yet catchy tracks. It seems as if the outfit stumbled into their success six years ago and now, not really knowing what kind of music they want to make, just give into the pressure of the mass-production of popular music. If it were cut by half, had more work put into each song, and came with only a spark of courage to move away from the mainstream, Origins could actually be a good LP. But like this, it is just another pop album conforming to the painfully familiar sound we call music.
TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Origins is out now.