Brandon Flowers and the Killers bloom in trying times, releasing their strongest record in 15 years.
Words by Tom Farmer- @TomFarmerJourno
2020 certainly has not been plain sailing for Brandon Flowers and his fellow Killers. All tour dates and festival appearances were obliterated by Coronavirus, including a sell-out UK tour. The pandemic also forced the Las Vegas outlet to postpone the release of new album “Imploding The Mirage”. Then, sexual assault claims were filed against the crew at a 2009 show tainted the otherwise-seamless reputation of the American outlet. Not only was there mounting pressure to whether the Killers still had it, they now had a reputation to rescue, as well as a mourning and deprived post-Corona world to entertain. No pressure lads.
However, experience is said to minimize the effects of pressure, which is something that the Killers are not short of. Fresh from their 2019 Glastonbury headline slot and now a seventh studio album, the American dance rockers have been omnipresent icons of this musical century, perhaps largely due to the immortalization of “Mr Brightside” as a staple of the indie disco. This legend status, amongst controversy and global uncertainty, has maintained by a very impressive and vibrant new record.
The album is a perfect blur of old and new, with Flowers certainly playing to his strengths. This includes his classic anecdotal style, which is omnipresent in the single “Caution”. As he tells the story of the tragic fall of a young woman, all to a background of synths and drums, the listener can visualize every word of the Las Vegas songwriter’s fantasy. Flowers also maintains the “Julian Casablancas snarl”, adding personality and warmth to the tunes. The record also remains true to the Killers’ traditional sound. The dance rock fusion, the very genre that Flowers and Co are synonymous for, works as sweetly as ever for them.
In fact, this record almost pushes “dance rock” to new levels. The track “Dying breed” opens as if it could be a Sleaford Mods track; I mean that as a good thing. The album does, however, also move away from their traditional upbeat and crowd-pleasing sound. “Lightning Fields”, featuring the legendary yet effectively dormant K.D. Lang, is a much more chilled and mellow ballad. Perhaps even the Killers, one of the most 2000s bands around, are beginning to warm to 2020 Gen Z bedroom pop. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
This is the point where I usually look at my notes and mention the negative sides of the record, but I have nothing written down. This does not mean that the record is without fault- it’s a Killers record after all- but nothing noticeable upon first listening. This is the first time since “Hot Fuss”, the American rockers’ debut album, that this can really been said.
To sum up, then, this is the best Killers release since their first emergence onto the scene in 2004. Yet again, the Killers have successfully combated the stigma of being a cringy American rock band; the stigma that Fall Out Boy, Green Day and Twenty-One Pilots are arguably yet to defeat. With a strong record that doesn’t drag and a strong single with “Caution”, the Killers have seemingly emerged unscathed from controversy and Coronavirus. ****
Buy the new album from The Killers here.