Longtime Imagine Dragons fans will notice a newfound brightness on the Las Vegas band’s third album. That’s because frontman Dan Reynolds wrote most of it after coming out of a serious depression that had plagued him since childhood but worsened after the band’s first major tour to support its hugely successful 2012 debut album. Where 2015 follow-up Smoke + Mirrors had a heavier, darker bite, 2017's Evolve is noticeably lighter, buoyed by more heart, soul and groove. Sonically, this is the best-selling rock band of the 2010s going full-out pop. Sure, there are a few sizzles of power-ballad guitar tossed in for good measure, but Evolve is Imagine Dragons proving it can still galvanise the forces by dialling down on the thundering rock theatrics—just a bit. Even the militaristic stomp of a song literally called “Thunder” is tempered by giddy, helium-pumped vocals. In a sense, Imagine Dragons’ evolution here is felt more in spirit than sound, and nothing says that more than the shuffling, gospel-tinged “Next To Me”, the band’s first big love song. The track was such a significant emotional shift, that the outfit decided to add it to the top of the album’s 2018 reissue. But it’s hardly the only glimmer of romance here. “I Don’t Know Why” takes a page from The Weeknd and Daft Punk’s smash collaborations with its starry-eyed electro-pop grooviness and Reynolds’ most sizzling confession yet: “Your love is always dangerous,” he sneers. On “I’ll Make It Up To You”, he pledges his loyalty to his partner over sparkling soulful pop; later, he reveals more of that tender side on the woozy electro-R&B reverie “Dancing In The Dark”.

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