With their larger-than-life, trademark sound scattered across movies and television, Imagine Dragons—or at least their explosive anthemic music—has pressed its way into our pop-culture subconscious. As they did on Mercury Act 1, on Act 2 the band both embraces and tries to distance themselves from their sonic signature, alternating throughout the lengthy set, albeit with middling results.
Whether it’s their distinct flavor of vocal layering, or the predictable pattern of ramping up the emotional intensity leading into the chorus, the band’s most recognizable form becomes repetitive. Uptempo tracks tend to blend together and even their most notorious cuts often sound similar—both on Mercury Act 2 and in general. Taken individually, they aren’t bad songs, but simply aligning a slew of them does not a memorable album make.
Act 2 is saved by its back half, which returns to their slower, acoustic-based writing. “Crushed” gives a glimpse of what Imagine Dragons can do when the volume is lowered, the mix thinned, and some deviation from the norm is allowed. Although not always successful, these quieter compositions provide much needed relief from the opening noise salvo, but the band fails to experiment with more complex melodies as they did on Mercury Act 1, making this catalog entry a bit disappointing.