Battle Born is the Killers fourth studio album and arguably most anticipated, being released four years after Day and Age. During that time, three of the four members explored solo projects, with Brandon Flowers’ solo career most successful. Therefore the band could be expected to produce an entirely new sound, but do they?
Battle Born reassures its listener that the Killers have not parted ways in musical style or influence. Battle Born is a nod to the Nevada flag, and as with the previous three albums, The Killers salute their Las Vegas home. The album lyrics are somewhat thematic; love, moonlit roads and religion reoccur. You will either love Battle Born’s nostalgic vibe, or hate it.
The album plays into it’s fans’ hands with the ‘Mr Brightside’ riff recurring in ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’, whilst ‘The Way It Was’ sounds distinctly similar to ‘This is Your Life’ from Day and Age. But rather than sounding like a Killers’ rehash, the band manage to produce something both collected and fresh. The album incorporates the 80’s synth tones of Hot Fuss into tracks such as ‘Flesh and Bone’, contrasted with an easy-listening country style in ‘From Here On Out’.
Critics may slate the Killers for not producing as many chart topping singles as they used to, but a band can only produce one ‘Mr Brightside’ in their career. Eight years on from their debut album, Battle Born is an affirmation of the music that The Killers produce.
A criticism of the album is that it is not a one listen record. Tracks such as ‘Flesh and Bone’, ‘Runaways’ and ‘The Rising Tide’ are instant favourites, but others require further listening. ‘Be Still’ is a ballad easily overlooked, but with a beautiful moodiness reminiscent of ‘Everything Will Be Alright’ from Hot Fuss. Battle Born is not an instantly uplifting album; much of Flowers’ lyrics are nostalgic and seem to pine over Nevada deserts and lost loves. In live performances, Dave Keuning’s stong guitar riffs elevate Battle Born’s songs into the anthemic, power ballads that Killers’ fans love.
Flowers’ voice must also be commended. As anthemic as The Killers’ songs are, it is Flowers’ distinctive American vocals that carry the band. Flowers just manages to make believable and not corny, the love-sickness and soul searching questions of “what are you made of?”
The fact is, if you weren’t a fan of the Killers before, you probably won’t be now. Battle Born is everything that the first three albums were, but refined to a sound that the band are obviously comfortable with. Four albums on, it is doubtful that the Killers will ever steer away from the bright lights, hot deserts and glamour of Las Vegas, or the music that they have born out of it. But in today’s music industry, it is this musical style that is unique to the Killers.