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Imagine Dragons

Smoke & Mirrors


Dan Reynolds — lead vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar, percussion

Daniel Wayne Sermon — lead guitar, backing vocals

Ben McKee — bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards

Daniel Platzman — drums, percussion, backing vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar


Imagine Dragons began in 2008 when lead singer Dan Reynolds met drummer Andrew Tolman at Brigham Young University where they were both students. Tolman recruited longtime high school friend Daniel Wayne "Wing" Sermon, who had graduated from Berklee College of Music. Sermon then recruited another Berklee music student, Ben McKee, to join the band and complete the lineup. The band garnered a large following in their hometown of Provo, Utah, before the members moved to Las Vegas, the hometown of Dan Reynolds, where the band recorded and released their first three EPs. They caught a break when they were called on to fill in at the “Bite of Las Vegas festival 2009. By 2011 the band signed with Interscope Records which occurred right after the Tolmans left the band. The guys then released 2 more EPs in 2012, one of which was released digitally. Later that year the band finished and released their debut full length album, Night Visions. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 Chart. After a whirlwind of a couple of years they headed back in the studio to work on their sophomore album Smoke and Mirrors. Can the 13 track album avoid the sophomore slump? Let’s find out as they get the record going with “Shots.” This tune opens the album up with a light and fluffy track musically. The lyrics are well written and will stick with you. They are hard to hear sometimes with the pitch of the vocals, but those types of vocals also add in some unique notes and ranges. It’s a cool little number. “Gold” takes some time to get use to. There is so much going on in this track that it takes a couple times before you hear every little accent that is on display. There arrangement is kind of odd as the transitions are sudden sometimes. However other time they are super smooth. I think some people will like this number, but others haven’t because of all the things that are going on. “Smoke and Mirrors” opens up with a very sweet and soft sound that skates along for a bout a minute before they kick the music into gear. The song remains fairly slow, but the intensity of the music increases. The vocals also add some higher notes and screams a little bit. This is another one that I think takes time to get use to. However, with that said I’m not enamored with it. “I’m So Sorry” is a spectacle to hear. The opening section is a simple sound before the dam breaks and the rest of the guys enter the fold. There are vocals flying all over the place while the music burrows into your head. They do have a slow down period with vocals and some piano playing. They end the track on a big note it’s an awesome track and could turn out in be a nice single. “I Bet My Life” is another awesome tracks that by this time you probably have heard, being a single. With that said it has great vocals, easy to follow along with lyrics, and an amazing musical display. It’s a top notch track that should stand the test of time. “Polaroid” moves along with ease. It offers up clean vocals that you can follow along with while the music floats by. The lyrics are easy to grasp and they are well written. It’s a simple track that actually has a lot to offer. “Friction” is a cool little number that will have you moving and singing along in no time. The vocals are clear and they fly all over the place. They infuse the track with so many fresh sounds that will have you on the edge of your seat. I’d love to see this track live. “It Comes Back to You” is an okay track, but I feel that it will get lost in the mix. The vocals are clear and clean while the music is smooth, but it really doesn’t stand out among the others. “Dream” slows down the album even more. They place in some keys in this one while the rest of the band sweeps along with ease. It’s another solid track, but as a while I think this one gets lost as well. “Trouble” kicks the tempo back up with a track that runs around like a wild child. It offers up clean vocals and a great vibe that you can get into easily. I like the lyrics although they do repeat a pretty good bit. “Summer” is another sweeping track musically. It has a lot going on in spots while the vocals do what they have done the rest of the album. They are super clear and provide a huge rangy. There are moments where the track seems like a superstar, but others it just seems lit it lack something. “Hopeless Opus” is a really odd sounding track with a backing sound of little kids which pop in and out from time to time. The vocals are clear once again and the tunes are pretty easy to get into. They offer up a couple different styles of vocals. They also place some effects on them. It turns out to be a pretty sweet tune. “The Fall” wraps up the album with the longest track. It begins with a quiet sound that works itself into something quite nice. It floats along with multiple vocals like most of the songs before it. It closes the album on a good note. Overall this record is pretty solid. There are tracks that really standout and should do some work while there are others that are nearly there, they are just missing one little thing. I love the vocals. They are super clear and easy to follow along with. The music is fun for the most part. They throw a lot of different things at you. It’s fun to listen to because you don’t know what’s next.


Rating: 8 out of 10

Tracks to Watch:

I’m So Sorry, I Bet My Life, and Hopeless Opus


Track List:

  1. Shots
  2. Gold
  3. Smoke and Mirrors
  4. I’m So Sorry
  5. I Bet My Life
  6. Polaroid
  7. Friction
  8. It comes Back to You
  9. Dream
  10. Trouble
  11. Summer
  12. Hopeless Opus
  13. The Fall


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