With two band members recently retiring from touring, some may assume that The Killers could be on their way out. However, over a decade since their debut album, Hot Fuss, Brandon Flowers and co. have delivered something that seems to be worth the five-year wait.
There appears to be more electronic themes and influences throughout, with a decent balance of both meditative and anthemic moments. The quieter songs leave room for reflecting, whereas the uplifting tracks are quite inspirational. On the whole, it is comfortably reminiscent of their last release from 2012 entitled Battle Born, but with more drama, and consideration.
Tyson vs Douglas is based on Flowers’ childhood experience of watching an outsider beat the world famous boxer Mike Tyson. Contrary to initial suspicions the lyrics are not about being an underdog, but instead, they represent his fear of being usurped. There are many occasions where the listener is welcomed into his deepest thoughts, even more so that on previous works. On Tranquillize we hear of his wife’s PTSD, this raw and open approach has inspired Flowers’ most personal material to date.
We are welcomed into the release by a crunchy drum beat before a confident bass guitar and drum roll introduces the rest of the group. Wonderful Wonderful’s chorus is a mesmerising masterpiece, while the eerie verses keep you on your toes. By the second track, we are already hearing a very different side to their sound, with funky instrumentation and a confident Freddie Mercury-esque lead vocal.
Rut takes its time to reach its climax after around 3 minutes, but it is another rich, sing-along piece that is worth waiting for. Run For Cover on the other hand hits the ground running, this time channeling more punk than funk. Elsewhere there are a handful of less notable tracks, but each holding up a consistent level of production value. There is a real sense of scale to this release, their effective use of vocal layering creates a grand, full sound. The Calling is possibly their finest hour, managing to strip things back to the bare minimum without losing impact. Listen keenly with a pair of headphones and you will hear a masterclass in studio techniques that Prince, or U2 would be proud of.
This five-year process has undoubtedly been a difficult one, as his writer’s block is addressed and uncovered on the shameless Have All The Songs Been Written? It is a charming way to finish off the story and is also musically very intriguing. The album’s lyrics are somewhat less predictable than before, full of sentiment and heart. With heaps of cleverly executed pieces to choose from, this project could be the band’s strongest since the immense success of Sam’s Town back in 2006.