REVIEW: Imagine Dragons back with release of deeply personal ‘Origins’


“Origins” album

Alex Novak

Imagine Dragons is back on its game with its new album, “Origins,” a return to form for the band whose previous album was unique but heavily formulaic and predictable.

In this album, that unique sound is once again parlayed into their craft. The music is delivered with focus and a directness that builds meaning for listeners, especially because the album is deeply personal.

Bringing back many familiar sounds of the band’s more acclaimed work — especially from its debut album “Night Visions” and some of the best sonic themes from its sophomore effort “Smoke + Mirrors” — the fourth studio album adds new to the old that is both refreshing and nostalgic.

The album opens up with hit single “Natural,” which embodies this return to form. It is recognizably Imagine Dragons at its best and a start to the record that sets the stage exceptionally well.

A couple songs later, “Machine” delivers an exploding, bombastic rock anthem that is one of the closest tracks on “Origins” to their best work.

“I’m not a part of your machine,” frontman Dan Reynolds emphatically sings on the track as the quartet moves from verse to chorus with a spirit in its music that cannot be contained. Lead guitarist Daniel Sermon shines in an impressive guitar solo.

It’s undoubtedly one of many standout tracks from the album, as is “Bad Liar,” a tune that comes to terms with the feelings we hide.

“West Coast” also shines as a track that laments the wish that seems impossible — to be the one to right the ship with love.

The band’s hit for the movie “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” called “Zero,” contains a bevy of lyrics that flow seamlessly and a guitar riff that soars to the track’s end. It showcases the members’ versatility, while fitting the tone of the movie with a digital sound and childlike honesty.

This album as a whole improves drastically from the band’s highly criticized last album, “Evolve,” released in mid-2017.

“Bullet in a Gun” even goes as far to overtly confront the critical reception of the guys’ last album, which many labeled as a sellout on their end for radio play, sacrificing their lyrical content and innovative music in the unnecessary trade-off.

“Time goes by and still I’m stuck on you,” Reynolds sings on “Stuck,” later lamenting at the loss of his love. He’s possibly referring to his recent divorce, similar to the way a couple of songs from “Evolve” referenced his deteriorating marriage.

“Only” dreams of a scenario where it’s only them together, and “Cool Out” directly quotes what Reynolds’ significant other told him to break off their relationship. These build on the album theme of love and loss.

Reynolds sings the things they hate about each other are really those which bring them closer, and this will always be an important part of him.

The album closer, “Love,” ends on a serious note that preaches unity in a society, which is universally important and hopeful in the uncertain times our globe faces now with a significantly politically charged climate.

In the end — even though “Digital” can only be saved from complete failure by a couple witty one-liners — “Origins” is a record that does not misstep nearly as often as “Evolve” did. The album provides an enjoyable listen that marks a band back on track.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].