Imagine Dragons offers light at end of tunnel in 2nd volume
If you were hiding under your bed after listening to the last album by Imagine Dragons, it’s time to come out. The second volume of “Mercury” is upbeat, often Caribbean-spiced and throbbing. It’s the sound of a band getting its arena groove back.
“Act 1” in 2021 was all plucky strings, seething beats and grand electronic synths as lead singer, songwriter and lyricist Dan Reynolds poured heartache, tragedy and his struggles with sobriety into a raw, confessional and searing album. The cover depicted a man falling.
The cover of “Act 2” could be of a man jumping, and that seems to fit many of the close to 20 new tracks, which are wistful, confessional and owning weakness, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Take the eclectic, slightly deranged “I’m Happy,” with Reynolds singing “Even when I might fall down/ I know my luck come back around.”
Much of the album is thankful for his partner, like the loving “Symphony” — a trop-rock ditty written seemingly under a palm tree — with the lyrics: “I’m the chord/ And you’re the melody.” The band hits new heights with “Sharks,” a richly textured, eerie anthem about selfishness, and “Bones,” a banger with that reggae-tinged, singalong Imagine Dragons catchy magic.
Not all the songs succeed, as one might suspect from such a stuffed album. There’s an uncooked quality to “Crushed,” “Ferris Wheel” and “Take It Easy,” and
a naive quality to “Tied” and “Continual,” while the regretful ballads “I Wish” and “They Don’t Know You Like I Do” might better off serve as therapy for Reynolds.
But don’t sleep on “Sirens” and “I Don’t Like Myself,” two mid-tempo, expertly crafted tunes that take the band in different directions. And on “Higher Ground,” the band is really cooking, with lyrics that could sum the entire second album up: “What a life/ I live until I die/ Won’t fail unless I try/ Bleeding, keep on breathing.” — Mark Kennedy, Associated Press
Even Canadian rock stars are looking
introspectively — and existentially — at their role and the meaning of it all in today’s seemingly crumbling world. But hey, a pretty rockin’ album came out of it.
Metric’s “Formentera” throws listeners into the deep end with “Doomscroller,” which starts off feeling like a warehouse rave or fever dream or maybe both. What sounds like a siren blaring in the background accompanies lyrics that capture the spiraling, sinking feeling of getting sucked into a bad news scrolling frenzy. The techno synth rises and falls like a doom(sc)roller coaster, only to dissipate where you expect the beat drop to be.
There’s a shift a little over halfway through the 10-minute song, and the dark, pulsing beats are replaced with hopeful, poignant piano chords. By the end of the song, you’ve forgotten all about the fever rave that was the beginning of the song — you’re just swaying as frontwoman Emily Haines ooohs.
The accompanying music video features bluehued shots of the band members juxtaposed with overlapping, peaceful outdoor scenes. The blue lighting is also used in the video for “All Comes Crashing,” where a longlashed Haines sings a love letter, but to whom?
In the album’s namesake “Formentera,” Haines contemplates fame and shame, imagining walking away from it all on a beach of the picturesque Spanish island.
And “I Will Never Settle” is a bold response: “Caught a glimpse of a normal life/ Terrified by the sight.” The lyrics flow confidently and doubtlessly as Haines repeats, “We will never settle, it would crush our souls.”
Throughout the album, there’s questioning and existentialism, and it’s an undoubted product of the past couple of pandemic years, but in classic Metric fashion, listeners can’t help but rock out anyway.