At this point, Imagine Dragons fans must have nerves of steel. As the alt-rock band from Las Vegas is known for letting their fan base decipher a mystery or two, it does not come as news to anyone that they are definitely good for a surprise at any time. So after their tremendous 2017 release "Evolve" and the giant world tour that followed, there were lots and lots of different theories and expectations as to what’s next.
Another live DVD? A new standalone single or two? The answer to that question was probably the one that nobody had quite anticipated: an entirely new Imagine Dragons album set for release merely one month after the astounding announcement.
Fast forward to today, a little over a year after the release of "Evolve", as fans around the world are introduced to "Origins", which the band lovingly describes as the sister album to “Evolve”. Bearing in mind that releasing a full length album so shortly after its previous one is a bold move on so many levels, and an enormous effort given all the work that goes into the record as well as promoting it, "Origins" is definitely NOT just your cheap follow up of b-material and desperate attempts.
While the underlying themes of the record, according to frontman Dan Reynolds, are heartbreak, celebration and a point of arrival, which definitely shines through in different stages, the most striking feature about "Origins" to me is that the album does not limit itself in any way. There might be an overall tone to it, but the subjects vary, which is to be expected, as Imagine Dragons have proven to be too multi-facetted to restrict themselves to one thing and one thing only.
So while the record might be quite chaotic or even a let-down for you if you expect a more narrowed down approach, the way it is common in a lot of "mainstream" music, "Origins" definitely has a lot to offer beyond that, including something for pretty much everyone. There are the powerful anthems they do so well, such as the first single and vigorous album opener "Natural" and "Machine", songs to get you through every stage of love and heartbreak ("West Coast", "Bad Liar", "Only", "Stuck") and the futuristic "Digital" that sees the band exploring some new things and doesn’t fit into a category really.
But then, we are also presented with the empathetic "Zero" about personal struggles as well as a celebration of humanity in its "Love", diversity, community, and compassion, featuring backing vocals from no other than frontman Reynolds’ 6-year-old daughter Arrow. And of course "Bullet In A Gun", a rant addressing the close-mindedness and hateful feedback artists often encounter online when their newest work gets written off as "un-original" and the one of a "sell-out", something Imagine Dragons have been confronted with in the past as well.
However, "Origins" not only shows its sonic diversity through the themes and lyrical messages it conveys. The band also tackles a variety of styles and genres, doesn’t hesitate to try this or that, making the record even more exciting to go through again and again.
All tracks considered, it might not be Imagine Dragons’ strongest record ever. However comparing it to past records from entirely different times and contexts is not what this is about. Art is supposed to encapsulate a time, feeling, state, thought or some other kind of inspiration and is always somehow representative of the artist at a certain point in their life. It is supposed to connect with people, to make you feel something and choose to let it into your life and take on its own meaning, just for you. And "Origins" is definitely perfectly capable of that, and more than that, it does it well.
Written by Theresa Theuerkauf
Make sure to give "Origins" a listen below!
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