4 Out Of 5 Stars
Beating the sophomore slump and improving the game in the production department, Imagine Dragons aim for the bleachers in "Smoke and Mirrors." Someone must have told them to get in touch with their inner U2, because much of the album looks to build anthems from scratch. For a change the reach does not exceed the grasp. "Smoke and Mirrors" hits its mark more often than not.
The first single, "I Bet My Life" exemplifies this direction. Pulsing verses with a chorus that looks to hit sing-along status where played, it adds some Mumford and Sons folk stomp to the mix while building to a crescendo climax. "Shots" has a guitar line worthy of The Edge, and "I'm So Sorry" brings back the distortion of the debut album with a raw intensity. But this time they sound like the screaming was intentional. That's a big difference from this album and the debut. The sucess of which seems to have given the band the courage to play every genre they ever had plans for in their incubation days.
That includes a bit of pomp to go with it. Who would have thought that the band that made the hooky "Radioactive" would end their second album with a six minute prog-rock opus? (And maybe the only misstep on an album that is quite assured of its footing.) Or that hints of the electronic dance would underpin "Summer?" Even if once in awhile they dip into the well that is Coldplay ("Dream"), "Smoke and Mirrors" is a surprisingly good album from Imagine Dragons, as they test their musical mettle.