Imagine Dragons’s Volatile “Mercury – Act 1”


Nearly a decade after the worldwide success of Imagine Dragons’ debut album Night Visions, and after the unexpected release of singles “Follow You” and “Cutthroat”, the band finally dropped their fifth studio album, Mercury – Act 1 on September 3. 

Lead singer Dan Reynolds has explained in interviews that the title came from the word mercurial, which is a term that perfectly encapsulates the album as a whole: while over half of the songs return to the band’s comfort zone of positive, sweet pop songs about love and self-acceptance reminiscent of previous album Origins, other tracks show the writer’s darker and more melodramatic underbelly to talk about the struggles of mental health and insecurity. 

Imagine Dragons has never been one for subtlety and they continue on with that trend within these 13 songs, to the effect that many of the lyrics generally sound like they are flinging emotions forcefully at you through the sound. This works better in some songs than in others. For example, the raw and painful “Wrecked” carefully layers complimentary instrumental melodies alongside heartfelt vocals illustrating the loss of Reynold’s sister-in-law to cancer, while the louder and more percussive “Cutthroat” dissolves into an oozing, shrill mess by the end of the track. 

This album takes the band out of their comfort zones in many ways, introducing influences from other genres that they haven’t really shown before. “Monday” is filled with snappy and syncopative electric synths bringing to mind early-2010s Muse, “Lonely” brings thumping acoustic guitar alongside lyrics about being lonely and anxious, and “#1” runs as an airy self-love anthem. 

The more positive and standard tracks are probably the least strong, since nearly all of them have the same melody and lyrics dismissing your problems and telling you not to be sad. However, the best song among them all has to be the more melodramatic “Giants”. The whole song has an off-kilter and desperate vibe, whether from the asymmetrical chorus or the fact that it discusses substance abuse, something the band has never talked about before. 

Overall, Mercury – Act 1 was mercurial and volatile in more ways than Imagine Dragons probably intended.