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Over the course of two opulent albums, Las Vegas quartet Imagine Dragons have delivered spine-tingling, arena-rock catharsis. But for their third effort, Evolve, out June 23, the band is scaling things back. Speaking to EW, frontman Dan Reynolds, 29, says, “We wanted to be selective about each noise. In the past, all of our sonic textures have been almost a wall of noise and music. [But] we’ve found through this process that you can be just as emotional and just as grand using maybe four instruments as opposed to us using 50.”
Guitarist Wayne Sermon, 32, adds that shift in approach made the group focus more intently on each layer. “It puts a lot more pressure on that one sound,” he says. “If you’re going to have just one sound, then it damn well better be perfect.”
The sonic shift comes after a bad spell of depression for Reynolds. The singer has been open with his struggle in the past, and he had a particularly difficult time when the band was touring 2015 album Smoke + Mirrors. “I felt very numb,” he says. “When people don’t have depression and they see someone with it, they think it’s just that you’re sad all the time. That’s really not what it is. You’re numb and you feel gray.”
Describing the period as “tough,” he says it affected the whole band. “We’re family at this point,” he continues. “We certainly see each other and talk with each other a lot more than any of our family members, besides maybe our wives and kids.”
Following that tour, the group took their first extended break, which Reynolds put to good use by focusing on therapy and his home life. Now, he says he’s in the best place, mentally, of his life. The work shows it. “This record encapsulates color in a new way,” he says. “When Smoke + Mirrors came out and I started seeing all these headlines that were like, ‘Dan Reynolds: Depressed As Hell,’ it was a shameful period for me. I didn’t want that to be the notion of the record, but now that we’ve gotten past it, I’m proud of what that album stands for. I’m proud of hopefully making others who deal with depression to not feel so alone and know that through work and reflection and reaching out to someone, that can make you stronger. I’m proud of that. So this record, to me, is really a celebration in a lot of ways. It’s an evolution of mind and sonics.”
Evolve‘s “Believer” is streaming above. The new collection is currently available for pre-order.