Night Visions was surprisingly decent. As an album, it had flaws but it was aware of them and tried to cover them with a couple of monstrous hits, the biggest of which being ‘Radioactive’. However, as farfetched as this attempt may have been, it showed a refreshing realism to these musicians that accepted imperfections and, whilst not celebrating, gave us an almost ‘we’ll do better next time’-type of admission. But however predictable this outcome was going to be, Smoke + Mirrors is not the album that does this.
Imagine an album that U2 make now, off the back of the awful ‘Songs Of Innocence’ and in an attempt to sound like a crossover between Muse and Skrillex and you’re pretty much there. Well, for the more bloated parts of the album at least. The other parts of the record are the type of songs that a stadium rock band create in order to have their ‘Nirvana Unplugged’ moment, in an often ill-conceived attempt to show a multi-dimensionality that they simply inherently lack.
If you like albums made by half arsed rock bands, trying to seem edgy, and miserably failing, then this will take your listening experience to a whole new level but, if that stuff gets you up, then you don’t really have a voice in this conversation at all. Smoke + Mirrors is almost offensive in its lack of cohesion or even recognition of what an album actually is.
Mike Watkins, Music writer at Seroword