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Sound Check

2/25/2015

Imagine DragonsImagine-Dragons
“Smoke + Mirrors”
Interscope

Part of what made Imagine Dragons’ first album so much fun was its ability to be everybody and nobody all at once. You could hear smatterings of Killers, Arcade Fire, Dragonette, even Coldplay in their songs, but only the best bits of all those acts with none of the flaws. It felt like lightning in a bottle. And then “Shots” starts playing on “Smoke + Mirrors” and, my God, it feels like the band has found a way to sustain its momentum while still producing something that feels like an evolution. For all their effort, there is nothing on “Smoke + Mirrors” that has the same theatrical feel of “Radioactive,” and frontman Dan Reynolds is still just as mopey as ever, but these are fairly minor quibbles. The album is eclectic, energetic and well worth more than just a cursory spin. CV

 

Screaming FemalesScreaming Females
“Rose Mountain”
Don Giovanni

Screaming Females has been doing its thing for a decade now, and “Rose Mountain” is its sixth album. However, this could just as easily be considered a rebirth for the New Brunswick, New Jersey, trio, because this is just about as well-polished and full-sounding as they have ever been. The crank on this engine is still turned by vocalist Marissa Paternoster. But now, instead of trying to carry the day all on her own, her powerful, wobbling alto serves as the bedrock for a sound that seems to have finally found its full stride. The first two tracks, “Empty Head” and “Ripe,” are robust, driving tracks that feel bigger than most anything the band has done. Poppy, surfer-esque follow-up “Wishing Well” serves as a fun change of pace. This is the least punk the band has sounded, but the result might just be its first complete album. CV

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