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Released: 2017

Label: Kid Ina Korner / Interscope

When Imagine Dragons dropped their third studio album “Evolve” in 2017, it was a bold declaration of their genre-bending sonic capabilities. Released under the savvy aegis of Kid Ina Korner and Interscope Records, this collection saw the Las Vegas crew navigating between electro-pop soundscapes, rock anthems and introspective ballads with a breathtaking ease. Tracks such as “Next to Me,” “Believer,” and “Thunder” were triumphant affirmations of their musical prowess, each distinct yet standing together as a cohesive unit within the album.

“Evolve”, as the name suggests, reflected a distinct maturation in the band’s sound, marking their progression from the raw energy of “Night Visions” and the darker undertones of “Smoke + Mirrors” towards a more polished, stadium-ready sound. It is an album that warrants a deep dive into each of its tracks, to fully appreciate the meticulous craftsmanship and bold ambition underpinning it. From the anthemic chorus of “Whatever it Takes” to the vulnerable confessions in “Walking the Wire”, and from the pulsating rhythm of “Mouth of the River” to the hypnotic allure of “Dancing in the Dark,” each track from “Evolve” offers a unique slice of the Imagine Dragons’ dynamism.

So let’s get into it. From “Next to Me” to “Dancing in the Dark”, here we are breaking down the album “Evolve” by “Imagine Dragons”.

1 Next To Me

The lyrics lay bare the raw human flaws and inadequacies that we all grapple with, amplified by the earnestness in frontman Dan Reynolds’ voice. Standout lines like, “Oh, I always let you down. You’re shattered on the ground. But still, I find you there. Next to me,” encapsulates the underlying message of unconditional love and emotional vulnerability that pervades the track. The song’s lyrics also delve into the emotional turmoil of self-doubt and the immense gratitude of being loved in spite of one’s imperfections. Towards the end, the heartfelt lines “So thank you for taking a chance on me. I know it isn’t easy. But I hope to be worth it,” reinforce the themes of gratitude and hope, rounding out this gut-wrenchingly honest track that so many listeners will find relatable.

2 I Don’t Know Why

The phrase “Loving the risk of being found, when we’re caught in the headlights” is an admittance of vulnerability, basking in the thrill of an affair that is both “dangerous” and exhilaratingly confounding. The repeated line “I don’t know why, but I guess it’s got something to do with you” encapsulates the bewilderment of love’s irresistibility, even in the face of peril. In a world of secrets, whispers, and shadows, the song confronts the crossroad of love and danger, and in the end, despite the unknown, the pull towards ‘you’ is inescapable.

3 Whatever It Takes

With lyrics like “I do whatever it takes ‘Cause I love how it feels when I break the chains”, the track is an adrenaline-charged anthem for fearlessness and grit. It’s the embodiment of their unyielding work ethic, a heady celebration of defying societal norms, breaking free from constraints and battling the fear of being typical. The song touches on the harsh realities of life and the music business with the line, “Everybody waiting for the fall of man, Everybody praying for the end of times”, which harks to the pressure of stardom and the music industry’s volatile nature. The Imagine Dragons unabashedly embrace their purpose with “I was born to run, I was born for this”, giving the track both a motivational and introspective lens into their musical journey.

4 Believer

What smacks you in the face is the line, “I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea, oh-ooh”. It’s a bold declaration of taking back control, of reclaiming your narrative despite the tumultuous currents life throws at you. The chorus, “Pain! You made me a, you made me a believer, believer” affirms the transformative power of struggle; a poignant commentary about mental resilience. Then there’s the raw revelation, “My life, my love, my drive it came from Pain!” The song flips the script on suffering as a crippling force, instead positioning it as the fuel for self-evolution, the impetus for unleashing the ‘believer’ within. A track as nuanced, as incredibly layered as this, encapsulates the essence of Imagine Dragons: unsparing, brutally honest, and fiercely inspiring.

5 Walking The Wire

The line “Oh, the storm is raging against us now / If you’re afraid of falling, then don’t look down” aptly captures the crux of this sonic journey. It mirrors the courage to brace the tempests of life, and the perseverance to keep walking, risking falling, yet never ceasing to march forward. Balancing on the metaphoric ‘wire’ of a relationship, the lyrics address the fragility yet unwavering strength of mutual commitment. The repetition of “We’re walking the wire, love” reinforces their determination, signaling an undying belief in love’s redemptive power. This song perfectly illustrates Imagine Dragons’ ability to wrap profound messages inside a catchy pop-rock wrapper.

6 Rise Up

It underscores the struggles of introspection and self-evolution. “I was hoping for an indication / I was seeking higher elevation,” sums it up; it’s about seeking a sign, a spark to propel oneself to greater heights in life. This theme isn’t new in pop music, but the Dragons coat it with a unique vulnerability. The lines, “I’ve been shaken, waking in the night light / I’ve been breaking, hiding from the spotlight,” reflect the anxiety and pressure that comes with this journey of self-improvement. Also significant is the repeated phrase “I was always up for making changes,” which speaks to the band’s eagerness to evolve personally and artistically. Its assertive tone is underlined by the audacious challenge to the looming darkness, “Oh, it’s calling out, and I won’t walk away.”

7 I’ll Make It Up To You

Through lines like “Honey, it’s been a hard year / It seems like we’re going nowhere,” the band taps into that raw feeling of being trapped in a cycle of self-destruction, while promising a beacon of hope through the constant refrain of “Every night, I’ll make it up to you.” This isn’t just a catchy melody. No, no, it’s an anthem for human resilience against a backdrop of failure. Delicate in its honesty, the song transforms vulnerability into a promise, into a pact. The kind that says, irrespective of how mired we might be in our personal tumults, we can rise up, dust off the past and make amends. Crucially, “I’ll Make It Up To You” manages to marry remorse with resolution, weaving a narrative of resilience, and reminding us that redemption is always within reach.

8 Yesterday

The recurrent motif, “No tomorrow without a yesterday,” speaks to the inescapable truth of our past: we are eternally tethered to our history. The Dragons poignantly dissect their identity crisis in the line, “All these years I’ve been searching for who I’m supposed to be, all this time I’ve been wasting ’cause I was right in front of me.” They grapple with a juxtaposition of self-deception and self-discovery etched within this confessional lyricism. A narrative of struggle surfaces with the exclamation, “But I am a hopeless crash collision, ’cause I’m a hostage to my pride.” And yet, amidst the turmoil, the song climaxes with an optimistic cadence in “You can reach for the moon, anywhere your dreams could take you.” “Yesterday” encapsulates a poignant pilgrimage from past to future, inhabiting the present as a transitional nexus.

9 Mouth Of The River

With lines like, “I wanna live a life like that, live the life of the faithful one,” we’re thrust into an existentialist journey where aspirations combat shortcomings. The repeated phrase, “Oh, the mouth of the river and the wrath of the giver, with the hands of a sinner,” amplifies the battle between mankind’s inherent imperfection and their pursuit of moral righteousness. This contrast is further heightened with, “I’m overboard, I’m self-destructive… Oh, I’m self-assured, I’m nervous and I’m pacing,” a raw confession that speaks to our internal dilemmas and paradoxes. These lyrical motifs that Imagine Dragons so deftly weaves into their music makes them hard-hitters in the pop-rock scene and gives “Mouth Of The River” its lingering resonance.

10 Thunder

The lyrics, “Not a ‘Yes, sir’, not a follower, Fit the box, fit the mold,” relays a rebellious spirit, unwilling to be confined within predefined norms. Similarly, the lines “Kids were laughing in my classes, While I was scheming for the masses,” reflect the struggle against ridicule and the defiance to turn dreams into reality. It’s a visceral underdog tale about resilience in the face of adversity, narrated through mesmerizing wordplay. And the resonating chorus, “I was lightning before the thunder,” serves as a powerful reminder of the protagonist’s inherent potential. Furthermore, the repeated phrase “Thunder, feel the thunder, Lightning then the thunder,” creates an emphatic echo, amplifying the album’s recurring theme of self-realization and personal growth in the face of societal pressure.

11 Start Over

Expressing a raw desperation, the searing guilt of past wrongs, and the hope for a second chance, encapsulated in the refrain, “Can we start over? Before it’s over, over?” A vivid portrayal of emotional turmoil, the song captures the draining weight of regrets borne from “Too many sleepless nights.” There’s a poignant vulnerability here, underpinned by a yearning for proximity, “Can we get closer?” The repeated line “Come alive, come alive, come alive again” throbs with a desire for rejuvenation — an emblem of resilience, signaling a refusal to yield to the dreariness of a “lonely empty hotel room.” Ambition and regret, closeness and distance weave a hauntingly complex tale of longing and resilience in this memorable track.

12 Dancing In The Dark

The band masterfully paints a neon-lit picture with lyrics like “Most days I’m keeping to myself / Living in my little bubble.” In the heart of the darkness, there’s a bold assertion of self-reliance, punctuated by the rebellious spirit of “I don’t need nobody.” Yet, there’s an enticing open invitation, “If you ever wanna join me / Baby, I’ll be dancing in the dark,” hinting at the duality of desire for independence and longing for shared experiences. It’s a raw, introspective dance in the twilight zone of human connections, straddling the line between solitude and solidarity in an electrified and frenetic rhythm that echoes through every verse and chorus.

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