Review: Imagine Dragons offer light at the end of the tunnel

'œMercury - Act 2,'ť Imagine Dragons (Interscope)

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 'œMercury'ť is upbeat, often Caribbean-spiced and throbbing. It's the sound of a band getting its arena groove back.

'œAct 1'ť 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 'œAct 2'ť 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 'œI'm Happy,'ť a title that could never appear on 'œAct. 1,'ť with Reynolds singing 'œEven when I might fall down/I know my luck come back around.'ť

Much of the album is thankful for his partner, like the loving 'œSymphony'ť - a trop-rock ditty written seemingly under a palm tree - with the lyrics: 'œI'm the chord/ And you're the melody.'ť The band hits new heights with 'œSharks,'ť a richly textured, eerie anthem about selfishness, and 'œBones,'ť a banger with that reggae-tinged, sing-along Imagine catchy magic.

Not all the songs succeed, as one might suspect from such a stuffed album. There's an uncooked quality to 'œCrushed,'ť 'œFerris Wheel,'ť and 'œTake It Easy,'ť and a naïve quality to 'œTied'ť and 'œContinual,'ť while the regretful ballads 'œI Wish'ť and 'œThey Don't Know You Like I Do'ť might better off serve as therapy for Reynolds.

But don't sleep on 'œSirens'ť and 'œI Don't Like Myself,'ť two mid-tempo, expertly crafted tunes that take the band in different directions. And on 'œHigher Ground,'ť the band is really cooking, with lyrics that could sum the entire second album up: 'œWhat a life/I live until I die/Won't fail unless I try/Bleeding, keep on breathing.'ť


Mark Kennedy is at

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