B Imagine Dragons
Less than a year and a half after releasing Evolve and crisscrossing the globe on tour, the band is back with a dozen new songs.
Origins is intriguing, offering more textures and sonic experiments.
Don't let the single "Natural" fool you. That bombastic bravado seems to indicate more of the same on Origins, but the band drifts into other areas, like the blissed-out summer jam "Cool Out" that could be on a DNCE album, and the gloriously anarchic, disruptive "Digital," which plays with dub step and chops itself into pieces.
The Dragons reteam with producers Alex da Kid and Mattman & Robin -- who have delivered some of the band's biggest hits -- but, they are not doing more of the same.
"Bullet in a Gun" is fresh with unpredictable electronic flourishes, and the club-ready "Only" has interesting tempo shifts and unexpected layered parts. "West Coast" is basically a folky tune that could happily sit in a Lumineers album.
Lyrically, Origins dwells on modern-day alienation and the band's uncomfortable relationship to its fame. On "Zero," lead singer Dan Reynolds reminds everyone he once felt empty and unreal. On the moody "Bullet in a Gun," he notes: "To make a name you pay the price" and later "sellout, sellout, sellout!" is heard.
The Dragons also explore a dehumanizing digital world, like in their plea for "Love," where Reynolds notes everyone tunes out shocking news: "We put on our headphones."
Hot tracks: "Zero," "Bullet in a Gun," "West Coast"
-- MARK KENNEDY
The Associated Press
A- Marianne Faithfull
Marianne Faithfull is a great musical survivor. She went from pure-voiced chanteuse of "As Tears Go By" to emblem of 1960s drug excess before re-emerging in 1979 with Broken English, a soul-baring blast of an album that still packs a punch.
Faithfull has matured into a diva of melancholy, her expressive voice roughened and deepened by time and life. The 71-year-old singer's 21st album is a moving, quietly majestic set of songs dwelling on aging, pain, loss and loneliness.
Faithfull is chief lyricist, working with musical collaborators including Mark Lanegan, Ed Harcourt and Nick Cave, who co-wrote, plays piano and sings on the single "The Gypsy Faerie Queen," a midsummer night's meditation inspired by Shakespearean mysticism.
Faithfull and producers Rob Ellis and Warren Ellis (one of Cave's Bad Seeds) have crafted a suite of tuneful, autumnal, tentatively hopeful songs, with simple, effective arrangements driven by acoustic guitar, meditative piano and somber strings.
They work a mournful magic. Faithfull brings an ominous touch to Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" and revisits two of her own songs: the Rolling Stones-penned "As Tears Go By," which grows more poignant with age, and the mesmeric "Witches' Song" from Broken English.
"Born to Live," written for the late Anita Pallenberg, wishes for "a good death," while "Don't Go" mourns another departed friend, Martin Stone.
"They Come at Night" is a bleak response to the 2015 attacks in Faithfull's adopted home city of Paris, while "No Moon in Paris" finds loneliness, rather than love, in the City of Light.
It's not all darkness. Faithfull's indomitable spirit seeks more life, more hope, more love.
"In My Own Particular Way" offers a wry self-appraisal: "I know I'm not young and I'm damaged/But I'm still pretty, kind and funny." Declares Faithfull: "I'm ready to love."
Hot tracks: "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "They Come at Night," "The Gypsy Faerie Queen," "Born to Live"
-- JILL LAWLESS
The Associated Press
B+ The Bottle Rockets
The Bottle Rockets offer a no-nonsense view of their surroundings through Brian Henneman's sharp songwriting and some rocking country guitar playing by John Horton.
Bit Logic is the band's 13th since their 1993 self-titled debut, which had backing vocals from Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar.
Henneman's keen eye for the complications in simple lives only gets sharper with time and Horton's guitar is ever more thrilling as is the rhythm section of founding member Mark Oatmann (drums) and "new kid" Keith Voegele, on bass since 2005.
"Bad Time to Be an Outlaw" has funky guitars parts coming at you from both speakers. It adds itself to the long list of songs lamenting the glitz and marketing ploys of the Nashville scene.
"Human Perfection" finds beauty in immediate surroundings, while "Knotty Pine" is a tribute to a songwriting room ("a psychiatrist-treehouse composite"). "Highway 70 Blues" paints the frustration of an Interstate traffic jam and "Lo-Fi" remarks how technological advances sometimes diminish the fidelity of music listening.
"Silver Ring" ends the album on a tender note, as Henneman, whose voice combines Dave Edmunds, Levon Helm and John Prine, bears witness to a most crucial relationship, the one with your true love.
Hot tracks: "Human Perfection," "Knotty Pine," "Silver Ring"
-- PABLO GORONDI
The Associated Press
Style on 11/20/2018
Print Headline: Imagine Dragons' Origins is an experiment in textures