Imagine Dragons take a step back with “Smoke + Mirrors”


Meghan Schuyler

Imagine Dragon’s sophomore album, “Smoke + Mirrors,” is overly-somber lyrically and sounds uncertain instrumentally. Released February 17th by Interscope Records, the album is a step down from their debut album “Night Visions.”

The lyrics from this album are consistently bleak, and left me feeling despondent. Songs like “Dream,” whose title sounds chipper and enticing, contains lyrics such as “[…] life ain’t what it seems, oh everything’s a mess.”

Song after song contained morose lyrics that were paired with overpowering instruments. After listening to almost the entire album, and encountering a song titled “Polaroid,” I thought I was in for a more positive track regarding the well-loved camera. I was greatly mistaken however, greeted with the opening lines, “I’m a reckless mistake, I’m a cold night’s intake.”

In addition to the album’s negativity, a constant theme of the “Smoke + Mirrors” is lead singer Dan Reynolds begging for forgiveness. In multiple tracks, including “I’m So Sorry,” Reynolds ambiguously apologizes and asks forgiveness for “everything [he’s] done.”

While there is nothing wrong with a darker album, “Smoke + Mirrors” is a surprising transition from Imagine Dragon’s previous album, which contained more optimistic feel-good songs such as “On Top of the World.” This near-ceaseless lyrical negativity puts “Smoke + Mirrors” back a step in my eyes, contrary to Reynold’s comment that it’s a “step in the right direction for the band.”

Imagine Dragons are anticipated to release video commentary in the near future, which may aid in explaining the lyrics and overall inspiration behind the album.



Instrument-wise, the sound of the album is very inconsistent. Although Imagine Dragons are considered “rock,” only a few songs seemed to actually fit this genre label. The range of musical styles resembled a hodgepodge compilation of uncertainty. It is evident that they are still experimenting, however, so the band should not necessarily be penalized for this factor, although it is somewhat off-putting.

One enjoyable aspect of the album was Reynold’s voice, which is pleasant to listen to and compliments the musicality of the band nicely. It is evident that he experimented with different vocal styles in the production of “Smoke + Mirrors,” mostly with successful results.

Unfortunately, however, in multiple songs his vocals were overpowered by the instruments, or the two simply did not sound satisfying together, as they have previously. Notably in “I’m So Sorry,” the music was overpowering with regards to the vocals, an unpleasing phenomenon.

While personally, I do not intend to listen to the album again due to these factors, I do not discourage anyone else from doing so. “Smoke + Mirrors” was a letdown based on what I was anticipating, rendering the album a sort of smoke and mirrors act in itself.


What do you think?