Imagine Dragons are inching closer and closer to getting new material from their upcoming third record out, but it has quite the discography to live up to. The band's second record Smoke & Mirrors was largely a success, combining heavier elements - as well as poppier ones - to the band's foundations. You can't move forward without keeping what's behind you in mind, though. Imagine Dragons' 2012 studio debut Night Visions set the pace for this band.
Regardless of how you look at it, Night Visions was, and still is a massive record. It's built upon very pure emotions and a pretty clear mission statement. It has a strong conviction and, on top of that, loads of pop appeal. The album is probably best known for some of its singles: the sweet, uplifting anthem 'It's Time' was played nearly nonstop in its prime, it's dinky intro leading into a powerful track with a strong drive. There's also the classic 'Demons,' perhaps one of the weaker of the singles. It's weird kick drum sound and less upfront sound doesn't live up to the hype of other singles on the record, but that didn't stop it from being a big single.
Of course, no one can forget 'Radioactive.' Even if you tried you couldn't forget it - chances are you heard it so many times in 2012 and 2013 that you got sick of it. The ad nauseam radioplay may have gotten to you, but while listening to it with purpose, you remember how massive of a song this is. 'Radioactive' earned its right as one of the biggest pop songs of the decade for good reason - the massive, glitching synths paired with the immense percussion really redefined and owned the anthemic vibe of music. What's even more massive than 'Radioactive' is the live version of the song - if you want a whole new beast to deal with, check that out.
Night Visions has a very strong grasp on how pop rock works. The rock n' roll vibes are part of the record - "cute" songs like 'On Top Of The World' are present, providing for a genuinely fun listen, while other songs like 'Tiptoe' have a darker sound to them but still maintain a big drive. Even the bonus track 'Rocks' has some fun vibes to it! There's a lot of great variation on this record, and it's all under the umbrella of rock and pop. Imagine Dragons weren't afraid to take a few risks, either - 'Bleeding Out' is a very different song on the record, featuring loops and a more retrospective melody. It's dark like 'Tiptoe' but also carries a different vibe to it that no other songs really have. The album's true closing track 'Nothing More To Say' is somewhat of a risk, too; the six-minute song builds it up to be a powerful and sweet ending - exactly what the record deserved.
As much praise as it deserves, Night Visions isn't perfect. Imagine Dragons created a bunch of very solid tracks, but they made one mistake: made some songs reach mental heights, while others just roll along without much flair to them. It's not like every song should be a new, towering epic, but track after track, you're waiting for that new high to be reached, and it's going to sometimes take awhile before that comes. There really aren't many bad tracks at all - 'Hear Me' is some solid pop rock, and ID channels Coldplay in 'Every Night' to give the middle of the record some nice ear candy. The only subpar song is 'Underdog,' it's over-the-top synths really dragging it down and making it stand out awkwardly.
Imagine Dragons have come a long way since Night Visions. Their third album is on the way, and when it drops, it'll really decide the fate of the band. We weren't too impressed with the new song 'Levitate,' and that's because it really just lacked what makes Imagine Dragons so great and memorable. They're defined by their anthemic vibe and their strong vibes. The best Imagine Dragons songs are the ones that truly mean something to the listener and the band. That's the core of Night Visions. They had everything they needed from the start - the question now is whether or not that is where they peaked.
Favorite Songs: Radioactive, It's Time, Bleeding Out
Least Favorite Song: Underdog
Rating: 84 / 100