On Friday, 3 September 2021, the Las Vegas based Rock group, Imagine Dragons, which is comprised of Dan Reynolds (lead singer), Wayne Sermon (guitarist), Daniel Platzman (drummer), and Ben McKee (bassist) released its fifth studio album.
The album is perhaps one of the most vulnerable projects that lead singer, songwriter, and lyricist, 34-year-old Dan Reynolds, has ever engaged in. Speaking from his home in Las Vegas, he said, “In a lot of ways, I felt like my foundation was completely ripped from under me over the last decade. I spent a lot of my time embracing that self-pity and wallowing in it. This record is primarily about taking action and rebuilding.”
The 13-track collection titled Mercury — Act I, was written over a three-year period. Several significant events occurred in Reynold’s life during that period. He separated from wife Aja Volkman, but the couple reunited in late 2018 after a seven-month break and welcomed a fourth child, a son named Valentine, the next fall. The loss of three loved ones to cancer —his business manager, an ex-girlfriend, and his sister-in-law—inspired him to write the song, “Wrecked.” He also battled depression and addiction.
The deaths reminded Reynolds how short life is. He said, “I want to grow as close as I can with those that I love, and that really requires being raw and honest. Vulnerability is a superpower. I certainly have not even begun to master it, especially being an introvert, but it is one of my greatest life goals.”
Other songs on the album include “My Life,” in which Reynolds sings, “I’m finding it hard to love myself” and “Lonely,” in which he confesses, “These days, I’m becoming everything I hate.” The song “Dull Knives” seems to be a desperate cry for help as we hear Reynolds singing, “Won’t someone please save my life?” And one song has the sing-along chorus, “It’s OK to be not OK.”
Mercury — Act I is unlike any of Imagine Dragons’ previously released music. ABC News reports that producer Rick Rubin urged the band to go deeper into the darkness and not worry if what they found would alienate fans. Reynolds commented, “Rick reminded me that over the last decade my fans have grown up with me. They not only want to grow with me, but they expected it. He told me to never worry about pushing them in uncomfortable ways. And that I really would be doing them a disservice if I ever tried to re-create the past or sugarcoat the present. I owe them vulnerability and honesty only.”
Despite all the anguish portrayed through the songs on the album, it ends with two upbeat songs — “No Time for Toxic People” and “One Day.” The latter song has the hopeful lyric, “I know that one day/I’ll be that thing that makes you happy.”
Reynolds further commented, “I wanted to end the record by focusing on all the things that make me happy. The simple things that keep me going every day. Looking to the future. Pointing out to myself all the beauty that surrounds me.”