Anodyne rock-pop juggernaut barrels on
If you like mind-bending statistics, then Imagine Dragons are very much the band for you. Their EDM-infused 2012 saga of apocalyptic dread, Radioactive, is the longest-running single in the history of the Billboard charts: 87 weeks on the Top 100. They are the most-streamed rock band in the world, with 37.5m monthly listeners on Spotify: stitch that, Coldplay, with your paltry 27.5m. Their debut album, Night Visions, spent five years on the US charts, the kind of success that enabled people to call its follow-up, Smoke & Mirrors, “commercially underwhelming” because it only sold 1m copies in the US. Normal service was resumed with 2017’s Evolve, enticingly described by the band’s lead singer, Dan Reynolds, in true caution-to-the-wind style, as “a more palatable album for this generation and this time period”. It spawned the singles Believer and Thunder, collectively streamed 1.6bn times.
They have achieved all this while maintaining an almost enviable degree of anonymity. Theirs is not a success founded on a striking image, ineffable charisma or brain-searing visual branding. Nevertheless, the scale of their commercial triumphs has clearly left its mark, not least in the degree of portent with which they now describe their work. There’s none of your “more palatable album for this time period” in regard to Evolve’s successor, Origins. “When we create, we create with no boundaries, no rules,” Reynolds said in explanation. “We find it thrilling to make music that feels different and new to us.”
Listeners suitably primed for a boundary-breaking shift from the hook-laden, electronic pop-rock that has so far fuelled Imagine Dragons’ oeuvre should perhaps note that the band’s first stop on its journey to new ground was to assemble a collection of producers and co-songwriters