Imagine Dragons set the bar high with their multiplatinum-selling debut album Night Visions, released in 2012. Their long-awaited second studio album, Smoke + Mirrors, dropped this week amid high expectations from fans.
Sophomore albums are often viewed as a test of whether an initially popular group has staying power. One thing is for sure regardless of how much commercial success this offering may garner: It is a deeply personal project for the members of this soulful and very original band.
Frontman Dan Reynolds recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the making of Smoke + Mirrors, saying: “There is a lot of struggle and total joy, total celebration and confusion, on the album. We all have a strangely healthy relationship. I think it’s because we have no friends except for each other. But we still have a lot of growing to do. Hopefully, this album will be a step in the right direction.”
Although the Dragons still think of themselves as an alt rock band, their new album is decidedly more commercial than their first. This is obvious with four songs in particular. The opening track “Shots” and the song “Gold” are almost mainstream compared to what we’re used to hearing from the group, but they’re more dramatic and theatrical than the pop sounding “It Comes Back to You” and “I Bet My Life,” the latter of which could be part of a movie soundtrack.
Yet fans will be glad to know that Imagine Dragons has not lost its identity on this album. The other nine tracks are clearly alternative, including the bluesy “I’m So Sorry” and the offbeat title track “Smoke + Mirrors.”
Smoke + Mirrors is available on CD and digital download beginning February 17, 2015.