Mercury - Acts 1 & 2

Mercury - Acts 1 & 2

“One thing we saw very early on in the recording process was the fact that this couldn’t be one record,” Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds tells Apple Music. “There were two different directions, two stories being told, and two timelines. We had songs that I wrote right after my best friend took his life and right after my sister passed away—you know, grieving songs. And then we had songs that were written, because of COVID, almost three years later, when I was in a totally different place. I had a different story to tell.” The band decided to release two variations on a single theme: Mercury - Act 1 addresses the death and grieving process, while Act 2 unpacks the complicated task of trying to move forward. These eclectic and ultimately uplifting rock songs are amplified by the band’s new collaborator: legendary producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, System of a Down, Tom Petty, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers). “They’re wildly sophisticated in their production ability, in their playing, and in their writing—this glut of greatness,” Rubin says of the band. Rubin’s style allowed Reynolds to rectify his loss of religious faith and discover a new kind of meaning on the record. “My first goal with creating art is putting out something that is honest,” Reynolds says. “One of the things that has been so inspiring to me working with Rick is I have been trying to refine spirituality and belief. When the rug is pulled out on you with religion, I was left with nothing. It made me trust no one. Any story anybody told me, it was a ghost story. I’ve been trying to refine believing in deeper things, unexplainable things. I’m trusting where I feel honesty. Rick is honest.” Act 1 is largely about letting go, as evidenced in the haunting vocal overlays of “Wrecked,” a song written about Reynolds’ sister-in-law, who died of cancer in 2019. “My biggest fear in life is lack of control,” Reynolds admits, revealing that he confronted that fear in a spiritually transformative ayahuasca trip, which no doubt influenced the record. “I had to give up control completely. And I died. Spiritually, I felt like I died. I saw so many things in my life from a bird’s-eye view. Then I heard, like, the bell and this incredible shaman came over and was helping me come alive again. It felt like a rebirth. It was everything I was told religion would give to me.” Act 2 focuses on the “post-death” experience, he says, and reaches for the light at the end of the tunnel. “Dealing with someone who has passed—and then what? What does tomorrow look like? Grief is always there, but life continues. It’s about being present. All you have, after you lose someone close to you, is this [new perspective] that every single second counts.”

Disc 1

Disc 2

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