The sun is shining, the first glimpses of spring begin to reveal themselves through the cracks of an otherwise miserable winter, and there’s a general feeling that life is pretty good.
Then, Smoke + Mirrors hits the speakers, and before you know it, things go from pretty good to downright awesome.
Drawing influences from their round-the-world jaunt to promote Night Visions, the 2012 debut that catapulted the band to stardom, Smoke + Mirrors strips away much of the electro-trickery that made the former such a captivating listen.
In its place, the band have pulled in the feel-good vibes of world music, the dirty, sexy sleaze of blues rock, and their own undeniable talent for crafting a damn catchy hook, then thrown the whole lot together in a vibrant explosion of utter joy.
OK, so that might seem a little over the top, but by the time Smoke + Mirrors really gets its claws into you, its almost impossible not to look at everything around you through those proverbial rose-coloured glasses.
With each track bearing all the hallmarks of a hit single, this is certainly not an album short on highlights.
Opening number, Shots, tries in all earnestness to come across as broody yet somehow still manages to sound adorably uplifting. From their band quickly switch gears with the prowling bass and assured vocal of Gold.
Radio-ready Smoke and Mirrors slows down the pace even further, a haunting synth washing its way beneath an unhurried, almost gospel-like vocal that does nothing if not spread an easy sense of calm through the bones of its listener.
Yet where said title track comes as the ideal soundtrack to a lazy Sunday morning, elsewhere, Imagine Dragons are quick to drive us straight into Saturday night territory.
The bluesy-stomp and needling guitars of I’m So Sorry romp their way to becoming an early favourite, setting a precedent for an album that only gets better the longer it goes on.
And whilst other albums seem start with a bang, end with a flourish, and cram in half a dozen filler tracks in between, Smoke + Mirrors real gems are those found around the half-way mark.
I Bet Myself comes as the very epitome of the intangible sense of freedom and abundant optimism that permeates the entire album, whilst Polaroid practically begs to become your favourite song, if not ever, then at least of 2015.
Clapping and chirping its way to the kind of charming chorus you’ll find yourself singing for days on end, there’s absolutely nothing bad to say about Polaroid, nor about the album as a whole.
Sailing incessantly onwards with an unabashed journey towards pop rock perfection, Imagine Dragons may not be quite there yet, but if they keep cranking out tunes that make life feel this damn good, then they can’t be too far away.
Recommended tracks: Polaroid, I’m So Sorry, I Bet My Life