By Spenser Webb, Entertainment Writer
Imagine Dragons recently released their second studio album “Smoke and Mirrors”, the 13 track album is somewhat unique as band members produced a majority of the album themselves. Only two songs feature outside producer Alex da Kid, known mostly for his work with hip-hop acts. His influence is noticeable on those two songs, but, with very little input, it’s a bit puzzling why Imagine Dragons would hire a producer for only two songs. To be fair he does produce more songs on the international deluxe, and “super deluxe” editions of the album, but they’re not widely available so again, why?
Putting this aside for a moment, Imagine Dragons did a surprisingly good job producing the majority of their album and maintaining their somewhat unique sound. Say what you will about Imagine Dragons, they’re not your typical rock band. “Smoke and Mirrors” proves this yet again, combining traditional rock style with a hip-hop influence, some electronics sprinkled in, and powerful bass drums that tend to punctuate most of their songs. That being said, this combination isn’t for everyone.
For those who do enjoy this change of pace “Smoke and Mirrors” has plenty to offer. One of the highlights of the album is “Hopeless Opus”, a song that features entertaining, catchy lyrics, awesome guitar solos, and a skipping record effect all thrown into one. Somehow it all works well together to produce a great song. Another notable track is “Gold”, one of the tracks produced by Alex da Kid, and featuring a strong hip-hop emphasis. The track also features quality lyrics and that thundering bass drum that seems to be Imagine Dragons’ signature. Changing gears to a more traditional rock song, “I’m So Sorry” features quality guitar riffs and a somewhat bluesy rock sound with a heavy influence on the drums. “I’m So Sorry”, like most of Imagine Dragons’ songs features drum work that isn’t complex but it is heavy and demands to be heard, obviously keeping the tempo, but also guiding the song as a whole.
“Smoke and Mirrors” is anything but a trick as Imagine Dragons follows up “Night Visions” and, in my opinion, successfully avoids the ‘sophomore slump’ most bands tend to fall into. Even more impressive is the fact that Imagine Dragons produced most of the album themselves. In my opinion a producer may have helped improve the studio sound of the album, but for what it is “Smoke and Mirrors” is still a quality album. I recommend giving it a chance.