Imagine Dragons have the alternative-infused pop rock sound nailed down to a science. That being said, the band is ready to start changing things up. They adopt a poppier sound in their third record, but they don't always hit it right on the mark. For better or for worse, Imagine Dragons' Evolve takes them in a new direction.
Imagine Dragons certainly make it clear that they can own a poppier sound throughout the record. There have been plenty of songs that had pop overtones in them on their first two records, Night Visions and Smoke and Mirrors, but there has never been a full dive into it. That changes immediately with Evolve, opening track 'I Don't Know Why' channels a poppy melody above the big stylistic change for the band, sounding closer to a DNCE track than what you'd regularly expect from Imagine Dragons. The sound is channeled throughout the record, especially closer to the end, the anthemic pop song 'Start Over' and the album's laidback conclusion 'Dancing In The Dark' bringing the album to a close. They channel the poppier side of Coldplay in 'Mouth Of The River' with its anthemic presence and sweet build.
There are also moments, however, that don't quite sound like Imagine Dragons have a full grasp at what they're doing. Single 'Thunder' is a prime example. The song's the closest thing to a sellout track as this album gets, adhering to the annoying vocal chops trend closely. The ending is nice, but the life of the track is already drained by then. The band has loved the distorted drums sound for years now for some reason, and if it's a stylistic choice, it's a very annoying one. 'Yesterday' is another track that doesn't sit quite well, but at least it's clear it wasn't a cop out. Instead of playing it safe, it's more like a failed experiment. It's wildly inconsistent and disconnected, but it does have some nice moments, like the guitar that begins in the second verse.
Imagine Dragons keep it close to home in a few tracks, as well, with more emphasis on their core sound. A prime example is lead single 'Believer,' the epic track that serves as this album's 'Radioactive.' Huge vocals, deep bass synths, pounding drums - this track has everything it needs to be a massive Imagine Dragons anthem. 'Whatever It Takes' sees the core Imagine Dragons sound meet the new as Dan Reynolds tries his hand at a rap before the big chorus ruled by huge synths kicks in. 'Walking The Wire' does much the same, its anthemic vibe and huge vocals pairing together perfectly.
Imagine Dragons' Evolve takes them in a new direction, and it spells both good things and bad things for them. Some songs are very uncertain and don't have a cohesive nature to them, while others see the band at their best. It's the band's third album so dar, however, so the want to try something new is important for them. Even if it's not a perfect record, it's clear that Imagine Dragons isn't trying to stick to one sound forever, and that's why this album can be seen as a success no matter what you think of it.
Favorite Tracks: Believer, Whatever It Takes, Walking The Wire
Least Favorite Tracks: Thunder, Yesterday
Rating: 78 / 100
Stream or buy Evolve on Apple Music: