Imagine Honesty, Humanity and Dragons
Issue   |   Wed, 09/19/2012 - 01:12
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“Night Visions,” Imagine Dragons’ debut album, echoes a message of inspiration in the face of adversity, a message borne from personal trials.

Although the Las Vegas-based band Imagine Dragons has been around since 2008, they’ve only recently become a part of the world of mainstream music. Imagine Dragons is comprised of four people: front man and songwriter Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee and drummer Daniel Platzman. The band had actually originally considered a different band name, but chose to name the band “Imagine Dragons” as an anagram of the original idea, which, to this day, they still have not revealed. Their first album, “Night Visions,” was released on September 4 of this year and contained a few tracks off of their previous three EPs, titled “Imagine Dragons EP” (2009), “Hell and Silence EP” (2010) and “Continued Silence” (2012).

The band’s music has been very well received, with their most popular track as of yet being “It’s Time,” which began charting on the Billboard Alternative and Billboard Rock charts shortly after its release as a single earlier this year. The music video for “It’s Time” was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in the “Best Rock Video” category. Not only that, but the song itself gained further fame after being used as the soundtrack to the new “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” trailer, as well as being covered on Glee.

The four tracks that reappear in “Night Visions,” “Radioactive,” “It’s Time,” “Demons” and “On Top of the World,” each of which were initially released in the Continued Silence EP, embody the strongest moments of the 13-track, 45-minute long album and set the stage and tone for the rest of the songs. Night Visions opens with “Radioactive,” a song which, with it’s overpowering, undulating bass and unapologetically aggressive lyrics, in no way reflects what’s to come with regards to the rest of the tracks on the album. Although “Radioactive” contrasts greatly in both sound and lyric with the peppy and optimistic nature of “It’s Time,” which is unquestionably the album’s greatest anthem and triumph, Reynold’s poetic lyricism can’t help but shine through in the chorus as they sing, “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones/Enough to make my systems blow/Welcome to the new age.” The album’s second-darkest song, “Demons,” a song about the insecurities and monsters within all of us, is also unable to be entirely fatalist and negative. In it, Reynolds concedes, “I can’t escape this now/Unless you show me how.” The only other song off of a previous EP, “On Top of the World,” stands in wild contrast to “Radioactive” and “Demons,” with a chorus that says, “Been dreaming of this since a child/I’m on top of the world.” Even in their happiest moments, however, the band still reminds listeners to “take it in, but don’t look down.”

The Imagine Dragons philosophy when it comes to songwriting, it seems, is to be as purely honest about the nature of the human existence as possible while simultaneously hanging on to an extreme sentimentality over it, even when things take a turn for the worse. Hence the constant epic, fist-to-the-sky ballads that can be found throughout the entirety of this album. It is said on the band’s bio page of their website that: “emotional struggle is central to Imagine Dragons ethos. From the beginning it’s been the group’s goal to take the pain they’ve each experienced in life and spin it into something redemptive and uplifting. That transformation — of emotional pain into art — is what drives them as people. It’s also what inspired their first hit, “It’s Time.” These ideas stand strong behind each and every track on “Night Visions,” whether the songs are optimistic and lighthearted or dark and heavy. This is epitomized in the music video for “It’s Time,” in which the band is seen walking along a desolate, barren land with an incredibly cloudy and gloomy looking sky. After walking what is presumably several miles, the band members find what look like magic beans in the ground and hurtle them into the sky, causing great plumes of smoke to break through the clouds and allow bright rays of sunlight to rain down upon them. This very strongly echoes the message of “It’s Time,” a highly inspirational song, with a refrain that says, “it’s time to begin, isn’t it?” In the face of every adversity, they forge onwards, and they urge listeners to do so with them. Possibly the most inspiring aspect of their songs, however, is not their determination to overcome obstacles. Rather, it is their open admission of the fact that yes, life can be difficult and that yes, this scares them too. This succeeds in uniting the band and the listeners on an intimate level.

Overall, all of the tracks on Night Visions complement each other nicely and work well together to create an honest and uplifting album that listeners will no doubt revel in time and time again.