The Killers first record in 5 years and the first record of their’s I’ve bought in 9 years. Where the heck does the time go? I did a little research on the album the day it came out on Spotify and through that first brief listen I thought it might be worth picking up. My girlfriend actually picked up the record for me as a surprise so here we are with a review! My piece of trivia for this review is that there is an Irish link to this record as it was produced by Jacknife Lee. We’re all over the place!
I hadn’t bought a Killers record for a while because I though they had kind of flopped, ‘Day & Age‘ seemed to show signs of slowing down and poor musical decision making, and I actually thought ‘Sam’s Town’ before it was also below par compared to the brilliant debut ‘Hot Fuss’. That record however was always going to be hard to top. I did however really like ‘Sawdust‘, the collection of rarities and B-Sides. It was just different, a bit of a mad mix. Now we have ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ and I quite like it. I think it’s their best piece of work in a long time and I’m happy to see this return to form. With this one, Flowers said he wanted to make an actual record and not just “slap a bunch of songs together” which is cool because almost all of my favourite records have a single theme running through them. A bunch of songs works too sometimes but they can often stray way off path with the 10/12 song format and you’re left a little confused, kinda like “what did I just listen to?“.
Anyway, the reason this record stands out for me in The Killers collection is that they’ve finally added direction to their sound once again. The title track opens on this type of howling and then we’re eased in with bass before Flowers echoing voice takes control. It’s a bit U2 but the little moments of imperfection they add creates an atmosphere. We’ve cracking, dropping vocals and a thunderous sound coming in every now and then. This could actually be one of The Killers best when I think about it. ‘The Man’ was released as a single as you can hear their influences right from the start. They’ve said that Bowie and Talking Heads have influenced their work and that’s all over this track. Check it out if you don’t know it and you’ll see it could belong to one of several artists. ‘Rut’ is also a banger and a perfect arena track, one I can see fans happily singing along to. It’s hopeful in its lyrics and sound but not cringe or anything. It’s good. ‘Life To Come’ also follows this type of sound and The Killers bring back that kind of emotional pause, where you just imagine Flowers looking at the stars and it’s supposed to make you think about life. It’s in all their music but apparent here. Good track, upbeat and well built so these first four tracks do The Killers reputation as indie pop gods justice.
From track five on I felt that the record might take a dip. I was waiting for them to slip up but to be honest the quality and fun goes on which I’m delighted about because it makes it a record you can play right through. Though 2 or 3 of the tracks on the second half of the album sound similar they do just enough to make them unique, whether it’s an intro or a chorus. ‘Run For Cover’ is a pacy track that keeps the record going in an area where The Killers would have begun to fade in the past. It was partly written for the 2008 record ‘Day & Age‘ but wasn’t fully finished. I love the intro to ‘Tyson vs Douglas’ as they use that moment when Douglas knocked Tyson down with a type of haunting sound playing over it. From there though I’m not 100% sold on the track. I get the chorus and how Flowers perception of Tyson changed when he saw him hit the canvas, but I’m not sure about the sound throughout. ‘Some Kind Of Love’ is an excellent track and deeply personal, based on Flowers wife’s struggle with PTSD and suicidal thoughts, a period of their marriage which lead him to cancel part of their 2015 tour. Their kids actually sing on the last chorus of this song too. It’s one of the best songs they’ve written actually so definitely worth checking out.
As the album moves on we get a more synth rock sound with ‘Out Of My Mind’ which I enjoy because I like a bit of rock but the song in general sounds a little like an album filler. Following this we get a return to the funky sound we had on ‘The Man’ and it’s kind of like a dark pop song. Some pretty cool work with the vocals and it maintains a synth rock sound and they do well to pull it all together. It’s really cool actually, I like this one. The closer is ‘Have All The Song’s Been Written?’. Just from the title I had a feeling of what to expect before I even heard it. I imagined Flowers trying his best to create an emotive track, light on the noise and giving you something to ponder. Was I close? Kinda. It’s a slow burner that highlights brief guitar solos and as it picks up it builds into a much more complete track. The sound of nostalgia is strong here and it does bring The Killers quality to the fore, a nice reminder of what they can do.
After listening to this record several times and pulling it apart to put it back together again, I’ve got to recommend it. They’re finally back, and with a piece of work they can be proud of. It will take you back because they’ve found that direction again but on that journey you’ll also see what made them who they are. The Killers have killed again and gone on a spree, just when it felt they had been locked up and someone had thrown away the key.
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