Batten down the hatches, a new Imagine Dragons album is coming out in the fall.
My vitriol and contempt for the Las Vegas pop rockers is well known and seemingly inexhaustible, but credit where credit is due, their mix of indie rock, gigantic layered choruses, and electronica/dubstep inspired beats fundamentally changed the alternative music landscape over the past decade.
Along with Awolnation’s ‘Sail’ and Fun’s ‘We Are Young’, Imagine Dragon’s ‘Radioactive’ shifted the focus of alternative music closer to stadium rock and synthesized grandeur, with the resulting deluge opening the door for artists as disparate as Billie Eilish and Clairo to eventually get played on indie rock stations. Direct lines can be drawn from these songs to the modern embrace of bedroom pop in the modern day, with these productions also signalling the abandonment of scratchy guitars and power pop that influenced the 2000s wave of pop and rock combination.
At this point, we’re all so far removed from ‘Radioactive’ and its inescapability that harping on it feels pointless and instead we should be viewing it as a historical artefact, one that can credibly claim to have changed pop music. But just to be clear: it still sucks.
And so do Imagine Dragons. It’s far too easy to rag on the band, and I would love to at length, but they’ve withstood a fair amount of criticism and continue to be one of the few rock-adjacent acts to drive big business in the increasingly fractured and diminished major music industry. So you know what? Good for them.
Their new album, Mercury – Act 1, is preceded by the single ‘Wrecked’, which was inspired by the passing of frontman Dan Reynold’s sister-in-law, who died of cancer.
“I was with her and my brother when she passed, and it was the first time in my life that I had witnessed death in this way,” Reynolds explains. “It sealed into my mind the fragility of life and finality of this all. I’ve watched my brother face something that no one should have to. But I’ve also seen his faith bring him hope in a future with her. I can only hope for the same.”
Try making fun of that, you heartless jerks. Mercury – Act 1 will be produced by Rick Rubin, of all people, so maybe he can bring some of that famous zen energy to the pop-rock proclivities of Imagine Dragons. I’m not entirely sold, but crazier things have happened.
Check out the new single ‘Wrecked’ down below. Mercury – Act 1 will be released on September 3.