Indie Rock Review: Imagine Dragons


Mackenzie Cummings-Grady  Journal Contrubitor

If you’re at all like me, you don’t even glance at the “Top Albums” tab on iTunes when searching for new music. The results every week are always the same. Justin Bieber, Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift are some of the names we’re all used to seeing on that list. Yet the other day, as I was perusing for new tunes, I saw a name I hadn’t laid eyes on before: Imagine Dragons, an Indie Alternative Rock quartet from Las Vegas that topped the iTunes charts last week with their debut album “Night Visions,” beating out all the other pop icons listed above.

So how does an alternative rock band beat out some of the biggest Billboard names in recent history? After winning multiple “Battle of the Bands” back in their hometown, they were signed to Battle Born Studios, a local Vegas record label, to produce two EP’s “Imagine Dragons,” and “Hell and Silence.” After the EP’s mild success, they signed to major label Interscope Records. They were then assigned to work with Grammy-winning producer Alex Da Kid, Grammy-winning engineer and song mixer Manny Marroquin, and Grammy-winning Master Engineer Joe LaPorta. The band released the song “It’s Time” and it immediately topped the pop-rock charts and was deemed by Billboard as one of  its “125 Essential 2012 Songs.” The hype around their LP debut escalated quickly, since the band kept relatively quiet on the details, and didn’t release the album until 8 months later.

As for the album itself, the lyric “Welcome to the New Age” belted from front man Dan Reynolds in the opener Radioactive expresses the bold mark these guys intend to leave on the pop industry. The dubstep-infused pop anthem captures influences of dance, radio friendly pop and alternative rock, a mix of genres that hasn’t been treaded on since Alex Clare’s weak debut “The Lateness of The Hour” back in May. I bet half the readers can’t name a single song off of that album besides the overplayed “Too Close” from those Internet Explorer commercials.

That aside, Imagine Dragons settles into their comfort zone once the three-minute opener has ended, playing up-beat alternative pop that could make the Grinch’s heart grow 30 sizes. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the whole album is enjoyable and unique in its own right, the mix of mandolins in “It’s Time,” the African sounding chants, and lighthearted xylophone in “Top of The World,” and Mumford & Son’s-like harmonies of “Every Night,” are only a few examples of the feel-good tunes on the album. While none of these examples make as memorable or as powerful a statement as “Radioactive,” you leave the album with a pleasanter taste in your mouth than you would listening to “Call Me Maybe” for the umpteenth time.

“Night Visions” is the highest charting rock album to date since My Chemical Romance’s sophomore effort “The Black Parade” back in 2006. The album thus far has sold over 90,000 copies, and remains on the iTunes chart at number five, beneath Dave Matthews Band & Bob Dylan. Swift and Bieber don’t even make the chart anymore, seems to me that people are shifting back to mainstream alternative rock.