It’s been eight years since the Vegas-based quartet The Killers came out with their debut album, Hot Fuss. Since them, I’ve fallen in and out of favor with them with every release. Sam’s Town was a step backwards sonically, and Day And Age‘s use of electronics was just too much for me. And then there was vocalist Brandon Flowers solo album, which I found rather refreshing – and completely underrated. But now the guys are back with Battle Born, their long awaited fourth studio album. And although I had problems the last time The Killers did such a production heavy outing, Battle Born is that on a grander, more cohesive scale.
“Flesh And Bone” starts the album off with a blaringly loud pop-rock song, something volume wise The Killers do not typically do – or particularly well. But the song starts the album off on right and proper footing. The first single “Runaways” follows, creating an engaging lyrical story (think of a new version of “When You Were Young”) backed by great swooping instrumentation. “Miss Atomic Bomb” is clearly the second single off of the album, which is a nice love song that follows typical Killers formula.
One thing I don’t necessarily tribute to The Killers is their way to craft a ballad. I think Flowers probably took some notes with Flamingo and mapped it onto a good portion of Battle Born. “The Way It Was” is a fantastic break-up song, while “Here With Me” is the opposite side of the coin – both arranged beautifully. “Heart of a Girl” brings a new country feel to such a gentle ballad. The most surprising song on the album is “Be Still,” an NPC laden lullaby, which doesn’t entirely fit with the album, but makes for a nice chaser after some of the more country sounding tracks coming before this one.
Brandon Flowers is MVP of this album in my opinion. His voice is still one of the most distinct in music today (probably behind Brandon Urie and Gerard Way in overall ability). Flowers has some gorgeous moments throughout this album – especially when he reaches to his upper registry. His lyrics and tone just flow out of him in such a way that it feels comforting when you listen to it. Listen to the track “Deadlines and Commitments” for example: his lyrics there come off with such a sincerity to it that you almost want to hold Flowers to his promise of giving you a place to stay. There are some lyrical cliches that Flowers reaches for from time to time, but that is almost a sign of who you are listening to.
Battle Born is a Las Vegas album; lots of glitz, little on the glamour, but makes up for it in substance. Coming in at over 50 minutes long, The Killers finally made an album that is worth listening to from track one on. Battle Born combines elements from Sam’s Town and Hot Fuss, making the feel and flow finally come together for a nice listening experience. I don’t know how many times I’ll come back to this album come December, but I know that Battle Born will definitely be considering. If The Killers were to go on another hiatus after this album, at least they will go off on a great note.
Final Grade: A-
Go Download: “Deadlines and Commitments,” “Runaways”