In a big month for releases. Muse, Grizzly Bear, Ben Folds Five, Aimee Mann, Band of Horses. The list goes on, and is, arguably, topped by the Killers. They have released their long awaited follow up to 2008’s Day and Age. They’re back with the highly accessible synth pop that they’ve always created.
At least, I think that’s what they’ve always created?
Oh wait, no, sorry! They used to make alternative rock records that were imaginative and redefined the modern musical spectrum. Ooh, my bad again. They made one, MAAAAAYBE, two records that fulfill said criteria. They expertly crafted tracks that defined generations. “Mr Brightside” will always be a highlight of my musical life and stands up tall as one of my favorite tracks EVER.
It feels as though ever since the group released Hot Fuss and were crowned the messiahs of indie rock, they’ve slowly lost more and more of that magic.
Opening track “Flesh and Bone” gives a pretty clear indication of what’s going to happen on this record. The Eurhythmics are back. Oh my mistake, that’s Brandon Flowers singing on this 80’s revival number. Whilst I’m all for the 80’s (can I give a shout out to The Cure’s Disintegration here? Favorite album ever!), it feels like unimaginative synth lines have been created to hide the realization that the Killers have run out of ideas. Admittedly, the lyrics are pretty. Flowers can write some nice poetry, but the music that backs it is ultimately rendered lackluster.
Lead single “Runaways” sounds like it should be the B-Side to “Elektronik Supersonik”, for those who are unaware of this track and it’s utter brilliance, watch the video below.
Despite the rousing the drumming, in “Runaways”, this drab melody is not going to get my heart racing. This will get radio play sure, but it’s not deserving of it.
My real problem with this album is this. From one track to the next, I feel like I’ve gone back thirty years. The same synthesizers back every song, the same guitar timbre takes the backline whilst the full-forward fumbles the ball in every play (that’s right, I made a sports analogy). From “The Way It Was” to “Deadlines and Commitments” every track is arrogantly same-same. This record screams arrogance and egotism where it’s undeserving.
The saving grace of the album comes in the form of centre piece “A Matter of Time” which is decidedly rocking in every respect. Some more of the flare found on this track, sprinkled across the entire album would have been greatly appreciated. The other bearable track closes the piece, “Battle Born” is an attempt to, as the track says, “turn this all around”.
Which they couldn’t. To quote more lines from the closing track that describe this release; It’s “up against the wall…dying”. This band needs help “getting back on their feet”. I want to ask them, “how did you lose your light”.
They “broke my heart”, most of all, as I went into this, hoping that the band would have their mojo back.