By some fluke, I ended up winning a digital copy of Imagine Dragons’ new album Evolve from Star 102.5.
I’ve decided to veer from the weekly 80s music review to hit this album song by song.
That’s right, you’re getting 11 reviews in one today!
Without further delay, here’s the breakdown of every song in Evolve.
1. “I Don’t Know Why”
The opening title of the album is an alien off-beat scream. It reminds me a bit of an extent to the aggressive synth of grit 80s. Lyrically, the song is neither here nor there. Delivery is okay. The beat owns this song, and the song is musically “in the woods at night with alien monsters chasing you.”
2. “Whatever It Takes”
Another eerie tune, but with rapid-delivery. It’s musically soft, very early 2010s. The fast-sung verses are fun to listen to, and the bridge is, for lack of a better word, “cute.” It’s okay, but doesn’t really have a lot of teeth. It’s a quiet background song.
“First things first”
I’m the realest this is an absolutely “meh” song. The chorus might end up being used for a bad video game commercial, but this song does not have any new substance. This is a definite down-slide in the album.
4. “Walking The Wire”
A tonal shift from the previous song, this song is actually happy sounding! Lyrically corny, “Walking the Wire” uses some Nik Wallenda-worthy allusions. It’s a song about tough relationships that you believe will work out. It’s a love song. It’s a happy love song. Musically, it’s what you’d expect: a clap beat with some inoffensive guitar. Definitely a refreshing break from the scary songs starting off the album.
5. “Rise Up”
Yet another screaming song, I have a feeling that Imagine Dragons saw that episode of Spongebob where singing loud will make people thing you’re good. This song has slow, soft verses and an angry chorus that startle you. It’s like your friend grabbed your friend hijacked the song and started being death metal on your slow song. Musically, it sounds the same as every other song: melancholy minor.
6. “Make It Up To You”
Okay, you’re okay, Imagine Dragons. The opening of this song is a bland apologetic love song. Musically, it’s boring. The entire song lulls. Then, you’re hit with the most Tears for Fears sounding chorus that just redeems it enough for me to not throw you out of the house. Heck, it even has a guitar solo!
AGH! The heck is this? You know when people record drunk versions of good songs? This piano ballad of doom tries to be a bit of Queen, a bit of Billy Joel, and a lot of Jack Daniels out of the bottle. It also sounds like it was recorded on a phone, and has a lot of audio clipping from being so loud that the microphones tried to quit. It’s probably a great drunk anthem, but I’m a bit too sober for this.
8. “Mouth of the River”
We’re back to Imagine Dragons after that horrible detour. This song blends with the opening of the album with lots of eerie distortion. Lyrically, this song is a bit too “I hate myself” for my tastes. While this is a reoccurring theme in Imagine Dragons songs, this one is a bit blatant. It sounds like an aggressive Coldplay song. It’s not bad, but it’s drowning.
It’s the song from those Jeep commercials! It’s okay. It’s minimalist like Lorde’s “Royals,” and has that weird baby-voice pitch shift thing saying “Thunder” in the chorus. Outside of the bit used in Jeep commercials, this song is unremarkable. I wonder how X Ambassadors feel about Imagine Dragons encroaching on their turf.
10. “Start Over”
This is another weird key song. The music doesn’t harmonize exactly with the lyrics, which throws a lot off. It’s quirkiness works well. It has that pan flute thing from Bieber’s stuff. Some tribal drum creates a well blend of a song, even if the lyrics are dull.
11. “Dancing in the Dark”
Rip a beat from a Drake song, add some weirdness, and throw it at the end of the album. This song sounds like the sound effects used in movies when people go into magical glowing forests at 2am. It’s obtuse. Random spurts of robo-harmony interrupts a synth-stopped voice. It’s a slow end to the album, and is just odd. The instrumental could probably sell digital cameras. It’s just so weird.
Imagine Dragons’ Evolve is a wobbly album with a few high points sticking out. “Make It Up To You” is the closest to the 80s vibe they push, and is naturally my favorite. In fact, I’ve been keeping that one on a loop, and I can say it does get better with more listens. “I Don’t Know Why” and “Start Over” are also well-rounded songs. The rest of the album is a bit of a waste.
Is it worth a listen? Sure it is. Nothing on this album was violently bad, and it breaks the current radio deluge of Chainsmokers soundalikes.
Overall Grade: C+