Imagine Dragons are impossibly popular. Since erupting onto the scene with the thumping slab of apocalyptic alt rock ‘Radioactive’, they’ve been constantly played on radio, won a mantelpiece-worth of awards (including a Grammy) and now, six years on, are the top streaming rock band of the year, with over eight billion streams for their 2017 album ‘Evolve’.
And even though it’s only been a year since that album became critically panned but commercially enormous, the Vegas quartet is already back with album number four, the hulking ‘Origins’. Avid Imagine Dragons fans won’t be disappointed; stuffed full of stadium-filling slices of the band’s trademark electronic infused pop-rock, it has everything you’d expect: big choruses, repetitive refrains and dystopian atmopsherics.
It’s also chaotic and incohesive, hopping through scores of different genres. The madcap dubstep beats of ‘Digital’ feel entirely out of place, and are clumsily followed up with noughties indie-pop in the form of ‘Only’. This is in turn followed by the soul-infused ‘Stuck’; it’s an exhausting change of musical gears. The record as a whole feels messy, with no thread to link the 15 songs together. All of this makes for a gruelling listen.
Not only scattershot, it’s also uninspired. ‘Stuck’ sounds like a Maroon 5 reject, and boasts the faux-emotive lyrics: “Time goes by and still I’m stuck on you.” ‘Boomerang’ is an schmaltzy chunk of sugary rock that could have come straight from Coldplay’s ‘A Head Full of Dreams’.
There are glimmers of vivacity: ‘Natural’ is a rebellious ripper, and will sound right at home in the arenas the band will no doubt sell out on their next tour. But more often than not ‘Origins’ falls flat, with insipid choruses and melodramatic refrains. Big, bold and a little bit naff, this is another bread and butter album from a mindbogglingly huge group.