Even as they release their fifth album, for casual observers Imagine Dragons are probably still defined by their second single, Radioactive. The slowest of slow burning hits, released in 2012, it was only a couple of weeks ago that its record for the longest ever stay on the US chart (87 weeks) was finally surpassed by The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights.
But even listening to that one song, you’d be hard pushed to pick a genre for the Las Vegas quartet. A bit rocky, a bit synthpoppy, a bit dubstep even, their ongoing style-hopping has allowed them to become a rare example of a truly successful band in the streaming era. They’ve got something to fit on almost any playlist, having worked with everyone from Lil Wayne to Avicii.
That means that here, there’ll be a few songs that you might like, and a few you’ll hate violently too. I was quite taken by the slick R&B of #1, and Cutthroat’s mix of low, hammered piano and painful screaming. However, the raging Dull Knives’ attempt at going full Nirvana is fingers in ears time, and nor does the band particularly suit swaying campfire singalongs such as One Day.
Big name producer Rick Rubin is in charge this time, and frontman Dan Reynolds has said Rubin pushed him to be “more direct”. That means blindingly obvious lyrics about mental health: “It’s okay to be not okay,” “I’m finding it hard to love myself,” “Take a look outside, it’s a beautiful day,” on an album that, on balance, irritates more than it inspires.