Album Review – "Smoke + Mirrors", Imagine Dragons

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The difficult second album. It’s one of the great challenges in the career of any band with aspirations to reach the top of the mountain, particularly if they’ve put out a debut as well received as Imagine Dragons’ ‘Night Visions’ was. With singles as immediate and anthemic as “Radioactive” and “Demons” it could only ever have been a resounding success, but inevitably gave the young band a mountain to climb when it came to crafting a follow-up. Not that it seems to have deterred them – ‘Smoke + Mirrors’ is a supremely confident collection of songs that lives up to and surpasses the best of the Imagine Dragons back catalogue.

 

Far more nuanced and unorthodox than many critics have given it credit for, the album spans myriad genres often within the context of single songs. There are times when this means the record feel’s a tad lost, and the folkier elements of admittedly huge-sounding single “I Bet My Life” and deeper cuts “It Comes Back to You” and “Trouble”. But at its peak this is an enthralling experience; on the one extreme there’s the hip-hop-sass of “Gold” and crunching oriental pulse-charger “Friction”, on the other the lovely ballad “Hopeless Opus” and immaculately produced title track. Producer Alex da Kid indeed deserves plaudits for drawing out the best of the group again and again.

 

Set to top the bill at some of the country’s vastest arenas on their upcoming tour, Imagine Dragons have filled their arsenal with songs of the appropriate enormity with this new album. ‘Smoke + Mirrors’ may very clearly be geared towards accessibility, but has enough of an edge and significant textural shading to avoid vanilla banality. In other words, the band could have become just another Coldplay clone and laughed all the way to the bank. Instead, they’ve cemented their own identity and recorded a damn good album to boot, and it’s hard to not respect them for that.

 

~ Michael Bird

Most Played Songs on Insanity 17/03/14 – 24/03/14

 

It’s time for another round-up of the most played songs on Insanity Radio – where we reveal what our presenters have been playing most, so you can see exactly which tracks we love! Once again, there’s a great diversity of tracks here, ranging from the hard rock of Royal Blood to the chilled out vibes of London Grammar and Clean Bandit (which should come as no surprise to be included here!) Other noteworthy tracks include “Magic” by Coldplay, “Can’t Say No” by Natives and the official Sports Relief Single “Word Up!” by Little Mix. As for the rest, see for yourself!

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Tracks:

“Odds Are” – Barenaked Ladies

“Can’t Say No” – Natives

“Our Time” – Lily Allen

“Word Up!” – Little Mix

“All Of Me” – John Legend

“Can’t Rely On You” – Paloma Faith

“Little Monster” – Royal Blood

“Rather Be” – Clean Bandit

“Hey Now” – London Grammar

“Diamonds” – The Boxer Rebellion

“Magic” – Coldplay

“Arabella” – The Arctic Monkeys

 

The Insanity Playlist 24/03/14

As many a student slogs through their end of term deadlines, we at Insanity attempt to keep spirits up via music. Cue this week’s playlist! The playlist has once again been given quite a big update, aiming to keep everyone going with the best new tracks around. So, what to look out for? Well, we’re looking at new entries from Calvin Harris, Neon Jungle and the increasingly popular Duke Dumont on the A-list, while we welcome Marmozets, Haim and The Orwells back to our B-list. Last, but certainly not least, our C-list is once again the centre of new talent; personal favourites here at Insanity being tracks from Making Monsters, Davidge and Zella Day. But enough talk: go ahead and listen to the tracks for yourselves!

 

A-List:
5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
*Calvin Harris – Summer
Clean Bandit – Rather Be
Coldplay – Magic
*Duke Dumont – I Got U (feat. Jax Jones)
Florrie – Seashells
John Legend – All of Me
John Newman – Out Of My Head
Kiesza – Hideaway
Krewella – Enjoy The Ride
Kylie Minogue – Into The Blue
Little Mix – Word Up!
London Grammar – Hey Now
*Madeon – Cut The Kid
*Martin Garrix & Jay Hardway – Wizard
*Neon Jungle – Welcome To The Jungle
Patent Pending – Hey Mario
Pixie Lott – Nasty
Route 94 – My Love (feat. Jess Glynne)
*Secondcity – I Wanna Feel
Skrillex – Recess

B-List:
Babymetal – Gimme Choko!!
Barenaked Ladies – Odds Are
Chromeo – Jealous (I Ain’t With It)
Filter – Surprise
*Haim – If I Could Change Your Mind
Katy B – Still
Lily Allen – Our Time
*Marmozets – Why Do You Hate Me?
Natives – Can’t Say No
R3hab & NERVO & Ummet Ozcan – Revolution (Sunship Mix)
Royal Blood – Little Monster
RUFUS – Take Me
Showtek & Justin Prime – Cannonball (Earthquake) (Kryder Remix)
The Boxer Rebellion – Diamonds
*The Orwells – The Righteous One

C-List:
*Asgeir – Going Home
Autoheart – Beat The Love
Bags Of Rock – Ramming Stone
*Davidge – Gallant Foxes
*Making Monsters – Limits
*Rmours – Cash Machine
*Twin Forks – Cross My Mind
Walking Relic – Every Little Thing
*Zella Day – Sweet Ophelia

* denotes new entry/promotion

The Insanity Playlist 17/03/14

If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt in the past few weeks at Insanity, it’s that sleep is for the weak! With that in mind, here’s a playlist to brighten your (very early) Monday morning playlist!  SO, what to look out for this week? Kylie’s back with an awesome new track, as are Skrillex, Pixie Lott and also Little Mix, with the official single for Sports Relief. Lily Allen’s new single “Our Time” also makes an entry, and keep your eyes peeled on the C-List for the most inventive use of the bagpipes ever…

A-List:
5 Seconds of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
Arctic Monkeys – Arabella
Avicii – Addicted To You
Clean Bandit – Rather Be
Coldplay – Magic
Florrie – Seashells
Foster The People – Coming Of Age
John Legend – All Of Me
John Newman – Out Of My Head
Kiesza – Hideaway
*Krewella – Enjoy The Ride
*Kylie Minogue – Into The Blue
*Little Mix – Word Up!
*London Grammar – Hey Now
Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You
Patent Pending – Hey Mario
*Pixie Lott – Nasty
Route 94 – My Love (feat. Jess Glynne)
*Skrillex – Recess
The Fray – Love Don’t Die

B-List:
Babymetal – Gimme Choko!!
*Barenaked Ladies – Odds Are
*Chromeo – Jealous (I Ain’t With It)
Filter – Surprise
*Katy B – Still
*Lily Allen – Our Time
Madeon – Cut The Kid
Natives – Can’t Say No
R3hab & NERVO & Ummet Ozcan – Revolution (Sunship Mix)
Royal Blood – Little Monster
*RUFUS – Take Me
Showtek & Justin Prime – Cannonball (Earthquake) (Kryder Remix)
*The Boxer Rebellion – Diamonds
The Pretty Reckless – Heaven Knows

C-List:
Autoheart – Beat The Love
*Bags Of Rock – Ramming Stone
Catfish and the Bottlemen – Kathleen
*Fear Of Men – Luna
George Ezra – Cassy O’
Heronshaw – Let Me Down Slow
Javeon – Intoxicated
REABO – Whatever May Come
Walking Relic – Every Little Thing

*denotes new entry/promotion

The Insanity Playlist 11/03/14

It’s late on a Monday night (Tuesday evening?) and what better way to celebrate being up at an ungodly hour than a playlist? We’ve had quite a clear-out this week, as we bid farewell to to the almost annoyingly overplayed “Happy”, the beloved “Timber” and “Settle Down” to name but a few. I’m sorry to see many of them go, but in avoiding being stagnant, it felt like time. But fear not! In their place we have a Myriad of new music (heh) for you to explore, with more on the way in the future.  Acts to keep an eye on here include Patent Pending, Florrie, Royal Blood and the bizarre Babymetal… but I’ll let you explore for yourselves! Oh and in case you were wondering, Earthquake was the first song the station ever played on 103.2 FM – 2 years ago last Friday!

A-List:
5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect
Arctic Monkeys – Arabella
Avicii – Addicted to You
Bombay Bicycle Club – Luna
Clean Bandit – Rather Be
*Coldplay – Magic
Ellie Goulding – Goodness Gracious
*Florrie – Seashells
*Foster the People – Coming Of Age
Gorgon City – Ready For Your Love (feat. MNEK)
John Legend – All of Me
*John Newman – Out Of My Head
*Kiesza – Hideaway
*Labrinth – Earthquake
Le Youth – Dance With Me
Lily Allen – Air Balloon
Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You
*Patent Pending – Hey Mario
Route 94 – My Love (feat. Jess Glynne)
Shakira – Can’t Remember To Forget You (feat. Rihanna)
*Showtek & Justin Prime – Cannonball (Earthquake) (Kryder Remix)
The Fray – Love Don’t Die
Tiesto – Red Lights

B-List:
*Amber Run – Spark
*Babymetal – Gimme Choko!!
Circa Waves – Stuck In My Teeth
Dead By April – As A Butterfly
Disclosure – F For U
Filter – Surprise
Issues – Late
London Grammar – Hey Now
*M.O. – For A Minute
Madeon – Cut The Kid
*Natives – Can’t Say No
*R3hab & Nervo & Ummet Ozcan – Revolution (Sunship Remix)
*Royal Blood – Little Monster
The Feeling – Fall Like Rain
*The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather
The Pretty Reckless – Heaven Knows

C-List:
*Autoheart – Beat The Love
*Catfish and the Bottlemen – Kathleen
*George Ezra – Cassy O’
Heronshaw – Let Me Down Slow
*Javeon – Intoxicated
*REABO – Whatever May Come
The Allergies – Gather Around
The Boxer Rebellion – Diamonds
The Weeknd – Drunk In Love (The Weeknd Remix)
*Tieks – Cake
Walking Relic – Every Little Thing

* denotes new entry or promotion