Smoke and Mirrors gets lost in the haze

Imagine Dragons delves even deeper into the shallow territory covered in “Night Visions.”

Christian Davis, Writer

“Am I out of touch?” are the first words sung during the opening verse of “Shots,” the first track on Imagine Dragons latest and hopeless opus. Come on people, this has to be a cruel joke. Satire is nowhere in the bands proverbial mission statement, so we have to assume that lead singer Dan Reynolds is earnest here. If not, Imagine Dragons might just be the most meta-band of the 21st century. Honestly, there is not enough here to give them the credit. The Las Vegas quartet’s “Smoke + Mirrors” continues where debut “Night Visions” left off — on a wholly uninspired and commercialist playing field.


You might have heard snippets from the album if you have, well, existed in the past few weeks. The band has major commercial deals with basically every car company, Target, Yahoo!, Live Nation, and other major corporations. Minor footnote here, I don’t use Spotify frequently, and on my first listen of “Smoke + Mirrors” I couldn’t tell when Spotify ads were playing and when it was a song I should be reviewing. Yes, really.

Now, hold your accusations about my supposed animosity towards all things radio friendly. Where recent pop contemporaries Walk the Moon are masters of their craft, Imagine Dragons simply feels like an underprepared apprentice. “Smoke + Mirrors” is a conglomerate of mix-matched ideas, and genre bending has always been the one trope Imagine Dragons has relied on to have any form of relevance. Keep in mind, this is the band that had a mandolin driven single and a dubstep single off their debut. This is supposed to convince us that they are capable of branching out, right?

Not quite. “I Bet My Life” is a haphazard attempt to capitalize on The Lion King intro that came 21 years too late. Hey, at least the Mumford boys were able to capture some sort of emotional pathos in their bombastic choruses. Four white Englishmen belting Shakespeare quotes just makes more sense to me than four white dudes from Las Vegas attempting to channel Rafiki. “Polaroid” would sound more at home at some sort of twisted childrens summer camp, with arguably one of the most throwaway lyrical hooks of all time. “Love is a polaroid” doesn’t even belong on my girlfriend’s Pinterest board.


“It Comes Back to You” actually started with some degree of promise, albeit the bands Coldplay fangirling comes off a bit strong. I, much to my own chagrin, found myself enjoying the track until Reynolds sings “All the things that I could be / I think I learned in therapy,” a terrifyingly simple, and frankly a bit too personal bit of lyricism from a band who got famous singing about some sort of radioactive zombie apocalypse. “Smoke + Mirrors” left me the same way the boys’ hometown of Las Vegas leaves most people — desperately trying to forget what just happened.

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