From “Radioactive” to “Believer,” Imagine Dragons has been providing us with hits for years. The band blew up and went mainstream after the release of Night Visions, their first studio album, and hasn’t stopped growing since. Songs like “It’s Time,” “Whatever It Takes” and “Natural” play nonstop on the radio. Their popularity comes as no surprise, as their music appeals to many, from student athletes to emos. They’ve become a key artist in today’s music.
The band shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. After the 2017 release of their previous album, Evolve, and touring for over a year, the band suddenly announced their new album, Origins, in October. This announcement took many fans by surprise, with the music coming just a year after their last album.
Frontman Dan Reynolds explains the album’s quick release saying, “We finished Evolve and we just kept creating. We could wait a couple years like bands are supposed to and put it out, but then it’s going to be irrelevant to us. This is a new world of music. Why don’t we put it out right now?”
Origins was released on November 9th and charted at number one on iTunes within a day of its release.
In his explanation, Reynolds presses on how the band itself would feel about the album and its release, not their listeners or the consumers. They wanted this album to be on their own terms—to feel organic. He goes on to say, “It feels like a sister album to Evolve—and we’re all really proud of it.”
Most tracks on Origins mirror tracks off Evolve with their synth-and-scream-heavy sounds. Others – like “Westcoast,” a slower acoustic song – stray far from the band’s usual sound. This Lumineers-esque love song is mellow and describes being persistent—even when weak—in love. The album is filled with other love songs, like “Only.” Starting off slow and romantic, this song tells the story of obsession and devotion, along with dependence in love, through poetic compliments. “Boomerang” is a light-hearted song with easy lyrics and a cheery sound. The lyrics continue the theme of holding onto love.
Though plenty are upbeat, many tracks deal with failed relationships and unrequited love. Reynolds went through a divorce while writing Origins and it’s evident. Backed by a chill beat and heartbreaking lyrics, “Stuck” touches on the melancholy side of love: loss. The song touches on low self-esteem and being utterly in love with someone who is gone. “Bad Liar” describes a tumultuous relationship and being unable to communicate. The song was written with ex-wife and fellow musician, Aja Volkman about their marriage. “Cool Off” has a calm beat and happy sound, but the lyrics are quite somber. The song is about realizing you’re just not right for each other, but still wanting to remain close. The blunt honesty is hard to swallow, but the message of letting someone go when the situation just isn’t right is healthy and definitely needed.
Other subjects are explored throughout the album, including himself. Self-empowerment and conformity are both heavily discussed and become major topics in Origins. “Machine” is a heavier listen, loud and full of screaming. Reynolds gets his point across, declaring he isn’t going to be controlled by society. It’s about making your own place in a world that’s constantly trying to make you conform to societal norms. It’s about proving your vision matters. “Natural” discusses the pressure of fitting in and making it in the world. The intense track touches on the youth growing cold-hearted and living in a world without peace. “Zero” explains the feeling of worthlessness and relating to others who feel the same way. Its uplifting beat and lyrics are the positive message people struggling with self-worth need to hear.
Toxicity in society and human nature are also extremely prevalent. Reynolds is a well-known LGBT+ activist and advocate for peace. He makes his beliefs loud and visible in Origins. “Love” calls out racism and hatred, pleading for unity and love for one another. Though the message might sound generic, Reynolds does not simply just ask for peace. He berates the issues and flaws with society and the world as a whole. “Real Life” directly addresses tragedies and the way we view them through a screen—how we get sucked into the news and learn to only see the bad in the world. “Bullet In A Gun” directly calls out society’s abuse of power and the way we pander to what the public wants. Reynolds describes the effort it takes to rise to the top and the treatment of those attempting to do so, sympathizing with struggling artists and mocking those who say they “only care about fame and wealth” and are “sell-outs.”
Imagine Dragons manages to always stay consistent in their sound and message, always uplifting listeners in a healthy and helpful manner. With screaming, deep lyrics, heartbreak and mellow beats, Origins is yet another amazing and relatable album. Reynolds has always been raw and down to earth in his lyrics and is never afraid to call corrupt ways and society out. The band has set a high standard for themselves and Origins certainly did not fall short.
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