Determined and purposeful, but slightly dissatisfying.
After 5 long years The Killers are back, but not as we remember them. In a recent interview, frontman Brandon Flowers described the band’s fifth studio album Wonderful Wonderful as ‘the right side of uncomfortable’ confessing that in this album ‘I’m more bare than I’ve ever been’. This description seems apt for a record which infuses the traditional glam rock of their sophomore album Sam’s Town, the life and electro lift of Day and Age, and the soul and introspection that we have come to associate with a Brandon Flowers solo album. However, it also perfectly encapsulates the essence of what makes some of the tracks on this album either a roaring success, that fills the listener’s heart with the kind of triumphant determination only felt when experiencing an excellent Killers track, or flat and muted, bordering on dreary.
Upon the release of the album’s single, ‘The Man’, radio stations and fans alike rejoiced. The Killers seemed to have rediscovered the verve and confidence which had been lost in their previous album Battleborn. Boasting a boisterous culmination of bass and synth with lyrics saturated in irony and self-awareness, ‘The Man’ set the tone and fan expectation of Wonderful Wonderful high. In their subsequent release ‘Run for Cover‘, this momentum was continued, with the kind of enthusiasm and passion for life that we have not heard since Day and Age, a trait that continues in their other standout tracks ‘Tyson vs Douglas’ and ‘The Calling’. In each of these tracks, it feels as if The Killers have regained their ability to create songs oozing with purposeful determination, striking a core with each of us who wish to reinforce the front we put on when trying to remain true to ourselves and stand with our principals in this time of political and moral uncertainty.
Unfortunately, it is in the album’s slower more personal tracks that it loses its way. Except for the opening track ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, which perfectly sets the stage for The Killers return its sound creating an almost cinematic etherial quality, tracks such as ‘Rut’ and ‘Some Kind Of Love’ seem far more at home on Brandon’s debut solo album Flamingo than amongst the potential power of The Killers. Lyrically personal and melodically slow, while the tracks are not void of emotional sentiment, musically they never seem to gain traction or fulfil their potential. Instead, they merely serve as a means to transport the listener to the next standout track and reinforce the tone expressed throughout Wonderful Wonderful.
Overall this isn’t a bad album, there are songs which demonstrate what The Killers do best and its perfect structure takes the listener on an exploration of humanity’s constant conflict between who they are and what they project to the outside world. Unfortunately, if the band are looking to cement their sound in what they determine as the post-rock and roll age they may still have a little more searching to do.
Wonderful Wonderful is out now via Island Records