I’ll note, I did not like Imagine Dragon’s last album. After Night Visions, the Tolans left the band and I felt like Imagine Dragons didn’t sound quite the same. The harmonies on Smoke and Mirrors lacked a woman’s (or simply a soprano’s) touch, if that makes any sense. (On the bright side, a bunch of my hard-rock-loving friends started listening to Imagine Dragons thanks to the aggressive, angry, more masculine sound of Smoke and Mirrors.)
I completely ignored “Sucker for Pain” from the Suicide Squad soundtrack when that came out, but I’d heard two of the new singles from this album. “Believer” sounded like another “I’m So Sorry” from Smoke and Mirrors, but “Thunder” sounded pretty promising to me. Repetitive but promising. It sounded like they’re exploring some new styles.
Starting with the album’s opening track, “I Don’t Know Why,” it’s apparent that they’re clearly going in more of a synthpop / electronica direction, which I am so, so, so cool with. They’ve retained much of their old sound, but it’s balanced by this new, interesting stuff.
“Whatever It Takes” and “Walking the Wire” sound like they could have been on the Night Visions album, which is so comforting to me. There’s definitely different, louder percussion style reminiscent of Smoke and Mirrors – not surprised about that. These songs tug at the same heartstrings as “It’s Time” did for me; the choruses are inspiring and uplifting, and yet they sounds warier, wearier, aged. But aged well.
Honestly, after listening to Evolve once, I can say I like it a lot. Like, a lot. It exceeded my expectations immensely. It seems like Imagine Dragons has taken the best of both of their previous albums, started with that, and built it into something that is both familiar and new. I couldn’t be happier with this combination.
There are some albums that I only need to hear once, enjoy, and then move on. There are albums where I need time to acquire their taste. This album falls closer to the first category than the second.