Imagine Dragons Fall Short On 'Evolve'
Lindsey Lanham | A&E Editor
Two short years after the release of their sophomore album, “Smoke and Mirrors,” Imagine Dragons have returned with “Evolve.” After such a strong follow-up to their debut album, “Night Visions,” “Evolve” falls just short of the normal Imagine Dragons grandeur.
After hit single “Believer” was dropped back in Jan., hopes were high for “Evolve.” True to the Imagine Dragons sound, the song is heavy percussion with quick lyrics and an instant success. Their biggest song since “Radioactive,” “Believer” boded well for Imagine Dragons’ third full-length album.
When “Night Visions” dropped in 2012, the two lead singles “It’s Time” and “Radioactive” solidified a dedicated fanbase for the band. The fanbase stuck around for “Smoke + Mirrors,” which was one of the more underrated albums of 2015 (Rolling Stone gave the album two out of five stars). But even with a solid start, “Evolve” may be Imagine Dragons low point.
That is to say that the album isn’t necessarily a bad album. Tracks “Yesterday” and “Rise Up” both take on a new approach to an already solidified Imagine Dragons sound. “Dancing in the Dark” features frontman Dan Reynolds playing around with autotune, and somehow it works for him.
“Mouth Of The River” showcases Reynolds more religious side. Raised Mormon, Reynolds admits an interview with Billboard that religion has always been something he’s struggled with. “I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the culture that comes with it, but I still identify as Mormon,” Reynolds told Billboard.
Though Reynolds is open about his religion, it hasn’t always been the forefront of his music. In “Mouth Of The River,” the singer talks about his battle with “living the life of the faithful one.” Though Reynolds has always been honest with his writing (“Polaroid” off “Smoke + Mirrors” is one of their most sincere songs), “Mouth Of the River” address both religion and touches on Reynolds depression.
In the interview with Billboard, Reynolds disclosed that he’s been battling mental illness. Some of that shows on “Evolve,” especially with tracks “Walking The Wire” and “Rise Up.” “Rise Up” is one of the high points of the album, starting off slow but quickly building up. The intense chorus is an anthem for all who have struggled with mental illness and need a push to be okay again.
Other than a few exceptions, “Evolve” doesn’t stand well. “Thunder,” the second single to be released off the album, is boring and repetitive. “I’ll Make It Up To You” is the weakest link, though, dull and doesn’t come close to achieving what Imagine Dragons does on some of the other songs.
Unlike their other albums, which typically have just one or two songs that don’t match the level of the rest of the album, “Evolve” has maybe four songs that accurately depict what Imagine Dragons can achieve.
Even though Reynolds may be in a better place mentally, Imagine Dragons have missed the mark with “Evolve.” After knowing what the band can do with their previous albums, even their best tracks fall short. That isn’t to say the album isn’t without its highs, and in true Imagine Dragons style, they will be appreciated by fans for years to come.