13 Tracks, Genre: Pop-Rock
Listen to Mercury — Act 1 Here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6DdU5f52hpc2gfeLjK374Y?si=lsm6fG8STxS2ca0V8z4nrg&dl_branch=1
My Thoughts: I have a….complicated relationship with Imagine Dragons. They’re largely responsible for getting me into music, they’re the first band I ever saw live, and I have not been able to stand their music for about four years now. While I like their debut, Night Visions, quite a bit, and absolutely adore Smoke + Mirrors, ever since Evolve I just have not been enjoying their music. So naturally, when I found out they were releasing music again after a three year break, I was very skeptical. It did not help that the first two singles they released, Follow You and Cutthroat, sounded like a generic trailer song and a pained cat respectively. At that point, I entirely stopped listening to the other singles they were putting out, and just resigned myself to another disappointment. However, I finally bit the bullet and listened to the album the other day, and then I listened to it again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. So….was it good? Have Imagine Dragons finally remembered how to write good music? Did any other songs give off pained cat vibes? Find out that and more in my review of Mercury — Act 1.
So first, let’s start off with some positives. The third song on the album, Wrecked, is genuinely fantastic. It has this fantastic guitar part that carries the song from beginning to end, it has some super engaging drums, and Dan Reynolds honestly sounds fantastic on it. His singing feels like it carries some genuine emotion, and it all builds to this wonderful, noisy crescendo in the chorus. I honestly haven’t enjoyed an Imagine Dragons song this much since Hopeless Opus all the way back in 2015, and it’s very possible that this might be my new favorite of their songs. It’s honestly great. It’s genuinely the first time they’ve sounded like an actual pop-rock band since Smoke + Mirrors, and….dear lord that is a sad sentence to say. But still, it’s great. The opening track, My Life, was also pretty solid. Nothing to write home about or anything, but it’s a solid opener that gave off some good vibes and had me tapping my foot from beginning to end. Dull Knives was honestly pretty great as well. I didn’t love Dan’s screaming, but I thought the heavy guitars made it bearable, and it was honestly a jam. So….that was three good songs? We’re already doing better than Origins. Let’s see if that lasts.
When discussing the negatives, the first thing I have to bring up is Cutthroat, because it’s probably the worst song Imagine Dragons have ever made. It has an unpleasant drum loop, some insanely out of place piano, and the worst vocal performance Dan Reynolds has ever given. It’s screechy, and grating, and just…he cannot pull off screams. He failed on Origins with tracks like Digital, he failed on Evolve in Rise Up, and he failed on Smoke + Mirrors with I’m So Sorry. So unsurprisingly, he fails all over the fucking place on Mercury — Act 1, which features not one, not two, but three scream-heavy tracks. And while Dull Knives is bearable, Giants and Cutthroat really show him perfecting the distressed cat aesthetic. And this genuinely hurts me, cause Dan has so much potential. I’ve heard him sing like a fucking angel. Hell, he does that ON THIS ALBUM in songs like Wrecked. But no, instead he goes for all this horrible screaming that just does not work in any way. I should also probably mention that Giants gives tonal whiplash, cause it goes back and forth between these almost acoustic sounding guitars, and these ear-shattering screams. It’s all awful, though.
Unfortunately, besides the high highs and the low lows, the rest of this album is just forgettable mush. I listened to all of it yesterday twice, and I’m listening to it as I write this, and nothing at all stands out. No Time for Toxic People is kinda cringe, and Mondays is a decent enough track, but there’s just nothing that pops out for me. Lastly, I should mention that this album has absolutely no cohesion whatsoever. It just jumps around from idea to idea, with the occasional sloppy transitions. Hell, Follow You and Cutthroat are back to back tracks on here, despite them sounding like polar opposite songs. So in summary, this album is a fucking mess.
Final Thoughts: So at the end of the day, I think I prefer Mercury — Act 1 to Origins. This album gave me Wrecked, which will definitely make it onto my playlist, and most of its tracks are just forgettable. However, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a shit show some of these tracks are. This album probably has the two worst Imagine Dragons songs to ever be written, and that is an achievement, considering how bad tracks like Bullet in a Gun and Digital were on Origins. So overall, I think I’ll give Mercury — Act 1 a 3.5/10. If it wasn’t for Wrecked, it’d be the worst album they’ve ever made. The fact that I prefer motherfucking Evolve to it should say a lot. Wrecked gives me hope that they still know how to write good music, but the rest of that album puts a severe damper on it.
Written on 09/06/2021