Every day or two, I scan the iTunes bestseller charts for artists I’ve never heard of. Over the weekend, I found a song called “It’s Time” by the band Imagine Dragons.
Obviously, I imagined a dragon—he was blue—and then I sampled the music. After fifteen seconds, I thought, “Well, isn’t this a jaunty little tune?”:
Lyrically, “It’s Time” is an aggressive statement of purpose, with singer Dan Reynolds insisting that nothing will change who he is. But his righteous attitude is backed by sprightly, sunny music. The handclaps and harmonies and mandolins make me want to drink a craft beer and go to a folk festival in a field. You know… stuff that’s chill, not rebellious.
And I appreciate the contrast. I appreciate that I have to listen carefully to grasp the song. I like being rewarded for paying attention.
Imagine Dragons’ new EP Continued Silence, produced by hip-hop visionary Alex Da Kid, supports my first impression. The songs are beautiful and accessible, but they’ve also got depth.
Take the song “Demons:” It reminds me of The Fray or The Script or OneRepublic—moving from an acoustic intro to an explosive, drum-heavy chorus—and that’s fine. I like those bands. But it stands out because Reynolds howls like a wounded animal. His voice sounds crazed in places, while the music stays lush and controlled. Again, the contrast is exciting.
Of course, the band isn’t always contradicting itself. A song like “On Top of the World” is just a straight-up celebration, full of sing-along choruses and whistling. Even here, though, the music is complex. It keeps adding layers of instruments and voices until it sounds like a whole damn party has crashed the studio. And that’s not just fun. It’s satisfying.
For today’s walk through Times Square, I’ll listen to “On Top of the World,” and I’m pretty sure it will keep me happy, even when the Fake Elmo asks me for money.