When singer Dan Reynolds wondered “Where do I go from here?” on ‘My Fault’, the closing track on the band’s recent Continued Silence EP, the creative possibilities for Imagine Dragons appeared infinite. Now as their first full-length record winds down with a little musical snippet titled ‘Rocks’, Reynolds sings “Where do we go from here?” with a sense of real wonder. The band’s debut record answers the question of where they have been and where they are now. Best of all, the record leaves little doubt that Imagine Dragons are a band in motion and that the next record is probably already exploring sounds we haven’t heard from them yet.
As they did on the Continued Silence EP earlier in 2012, Dragons open the record with the hard-hitting ‘Radioactive’. An effective track, it still lacks a little of the creative quirks that make the songs that follow far more exciting.
New song ‘Tip Toe’ mixes indie-pop accents with danceable rock that feels finely polished for such a young band. The breakthrough single, ‘It’s Time’, anchors the first part of the record and remains no less addictive than when it first surfaced earlier this year. From the ringing mandolin to the gigantic chorus, the song captures the best sides of Imagine Dragons without overpowering the rest of the record.
‘Amsterdam’ begins to bring into focus some sense of the band’s diverse influences. Earlier records drew comparisons to The Killers (a reworked ‘Hear Me’ from the older Hell And Silence EP sounds better than ever here) and even Arcade Fire, which were not unfounded. The Continued Silence EP added effected drum sounds to give it a more urban edge (‘Demons’), which also surfaces on this debut. However, ‘Amsterdam’ displays the finesse of Coldplay, where artistic statement meets universal appeal. Imagine Dragons write with open arms and appear unafraid of the entire world showing up at one of their concerts ready to sing along to every chorus.
The lone misfire, ‘Every Night’, suffers from production that overshadows songwriting with a chorus that could end up sampled by a hip hop artist. It’s only a hiccup and the record closes out strong with the infectious ‘Underdog’, which dazzles with synth-pop colors borne of the 1980s. Best of all, it’s fun. For a band that writes from the heart and plays at the speed of passion, the little moments of playfulness keep the record from becoming too heavy in its importance.
Forged from two previous EPs that span a rapid period of musical growth for Imagine Dragons, Night Visions never feels pieced together. The record provides a clear sense of the band, powerful and positive in their writing, and points towards even more interesting records down the road.