Album review: ‘Night Visions’ lacks new hits

There are several ways for a band to show the world they have hit it big. They can reach platinum record level, have hours of air play each day on every radio station across America, be on top of the Billboard lists or they can have their song covered by Glee. Imagine Dragons cannot claim air play or platinum or billboard domination, but they do have Glee by their side.

Imagine Dragons is soaring with the success of their first album, “Night Visions.” They have been introduced to millions on prime-time television by the character Blaine on Glee when he sang their hit “It’s Time.”

The band’s followers pre-Glee, heard their song “Radioactive” during summer Olympic coverage when NBC shamelessly promoted their new firefighter drama using the song. Fans may feel ripped off by the 13 track album. Of the 13 tracks, only eight are new from their EP “Continued Silence.” The price on iTunes reflects this lack of new material at only $7.99 but there is still an aggravation. Amazon offers the album for $5.99, but buyers will only get 11 songs and no special album booklet.

On the opening song on the album list the band shows their alternative sound on “Radioactive”. It starts out like it belongs in a gospel, and becomes electric.  With some heavy influences from synthesized beats it makes the sound unique instead of overly processed. Dan Reynolds has a coarse voice and unusual range in his soft singing to border-line screaming.  Over the course of the album, the listener realizes this will become Reynolds’ style.

“Tiptoe” is a softer, electric sound from Radioactive, but still catchy in its chorus. The vocals aren’t as strong, and it doesn’t make as much of a statement. They do a couple songs like this on the album and it’s clear that they struggle. “It’s Time” is a statement from this struggling band- with heavy strings and vocals. A message to their fans and their beloved Las Vegas, it’s packed with passion. As Reynolds sings, “I’m never changing who I am,” the song sends a positive message about compromising just to make money, or so the listener can interpret. Infused with a choir at moments, most can understand why this is their hit.

“Demons” is a darker song, sang with only light sound for the first forty seconds, and then becomes an explosion of drum beats that cut in and out in the more lyrical parts, demanding the listener’s attention. They excel at this type of song, which is why there are about four on the album.

One of the best songs, “On Top of the World” is a feel good song. It seems to have tropical/reggae influences, with hand drums, clapping and jaunty keys. Their lightest song on the album, it still passes on a message of carrying on no matter what you face. Another reggae influenced song is “Underdog,” which is both joyful and a statement.

Imagine Dragons gets emotional with a couple love songs and a heartfelt apology for falling short and the band’s struggles in “Amsterdam.”  Without much venture into songs about love, they still do it well.

Imagine Dragons shouldn’t expect platinum records unless their Moms buy a whole lot of albums. Overall they have a solid drums, strings, keys and synth formula which would give them a comfortable rock sound. However, they belong in the alternative genre because they like to throw the unexpected reggae-island jaunty tunes in which leaves listens without an idea as to what to expect. Although this album is their first, it’s unsure how far the band will go if they rely on previous successful set-staging releases.