Las Vegas indie rock darlings Imagine Dragons have recently re:released their stunning 2012 debut, Night Visions, in a deluxe edition which now comes with five bonus tracks, known collectively as The Archive EP. The EP is available to be purchased alone on iTunes.
“Round & Round” starts off with electric and acoustic guitars weaving in and out of each other before shiny electro-beats drop. Beats that come and go throughout the propulsive song, complimenting the live drums and other percussive instruments perfectly. Combining them like this is something Imagine Dragons do better than most, as evidenced by the critical acclaim of Night Visions. They even have two members who play drums, singer Dan Reynolds and drummer/viola player Dan Platzman. “You don’t have to hold you head up,” Reynolds exclaims just before the chorus and he’s never sounded more like Brandon Flowers of The Killers, the band Imagine Dragons have been most compared to. I don’t think the Dragons intentionally write songs that emulate The Killers, however. The similarities are likely due to the fact that both bands hail from Las Vegas, so they were probably part of the same scene. Regardless, the Dragons are a great band that are going to have a long career if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot, so soon they will one of the tried and true bands that people compare new bands to, that lesser bands will try to imitate.
While the music is very upbeat and often even glittery, the lyrics of “The River” are much more serious. “I cleanse in the river for someone else, for anyone but myself,” Reynolds sings. It’s like an earnest beatnik letter. It would take a heart of stone not to be moved.
“America” is a bit of an unusual one. Some of the lyrics would seem to be about a mid-life crisis at the age of 20. But then it turns into an uplifting song meant to encourage America. “Rise to the top of the world, America, America, don’t you cry,” he sings. It’s both inspired and inspiring.
The rhythm of “Selene” is insistent, practically storming through the song, bursting with raw energy. It reminds me of Franz Ferdinand’s sound. Not just because of the rhythm though. The almost-spoken vocals and the punchy grooves are reminiscent of Ferdinand, too. I can’t compare “Selene” to any particular song though. It’s just the sound of the whole first Ferdinand album that I hear in this. But I do hear Imagine Dragons, too. It’s not derivative of Ferdinand so much as it just echoes that vibe.
“My Fault” begins with Reynolds singing over a simple but sonorous beat, but other beats slam on top of that one when it hits the chorus. Suffice to say it’s quite the stomper. You’re mind’s likely to be so hooked on those blessed beats that you’ll barely notice the lyrics. The chorus is gigantic and catchy as bubblegum pop, too. But those words, that’s where it’s at, man. “Walking out to the water’s edge, asking why I’m here instead of home.” He could be channeling Bono or Kerouac. He wears his road worn heart on his sleeve and lets the truth hemorrhage like Springsteen. Can’t beat that. -Michael McCarthy