The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful Review

It has been five years since The Killers last album Battle born was released, but the huge group’s fourth studio album was sadly nothing more than a piece of self indulgence and walled off nostalgia. It did not pertain the slick and driven Indie Pop of their previous three albums. Their fifth studio album is called Wonderful Wonderful and comes off the back of Brandon Flowers bold second solo album The Desired Effect from 2015. The electro Pop and Disco influenced album bursted with imposing melodies and rhythms. It is exactly this and a keen ear for well fitting and more meaningful lyrics that can create another hit filled and memorable album from the Las Vegas giants. 

The Man’ echoes a larger trend of Rock and Pop groups looking to Disco as Brandon did in 2015 and this song swaggers with Funk riffs and bass lines albeit with strong electronic overtures. The shining and glimmering sound is met with distorted, low bass lines and Brandon’s smooth, yet slightly broken vocals marry with the sound well. This makes it a little more developed as a Disco/Funk track; something that they largely pull off albeit for a few unnecessary transitions. Lyrically, this song has more to say than any Killers song has for a while as they try to smash the concept of being an alpha male and the idea of being manly as a whole. This idea is channelled through the singles artwork with a child dressed in adults clothes; hinting at the immaturity of the concepts they trivialise on this track. A track that takes getting used to and though not perfect or nuanced, it offers a welcome change of tack from The Killers. The album’s title and opening track ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ begins with whirring sirens before a crisp, undulating bass line and collapsing bass drum beat accompany Brandon Flowers quivering vocals. This tense sound opens up with thin, washed out guitars and Flower’s assertive, quaking vocal in the chorus. The song goes on to break out into theatrical bursts with crashing instrumentation and bellowing vocals as the lyrics appeal to “the motherless child”. Every aspect of this song exudes drama and cinematic quality bursting from tense and dark arrangements that form the foundation of the track. Their experience is on show too as they control the arrangement with poise and precision. Though it will never be the most popular Killers track, this is quite possibly them at their most intriguing and talented; unexpectedly. Opening from resonance to a soothing lullaby, like watching a rainstorm in a desert ‘Some Kind of Love’ has a very intimate feel. Far more ethereal than previous singles it is an outpouring of adoration for both its inspiration Brian Eno’s ‘An Ending (Ascent)’ from the 1983 album ‘Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks,’ – the track weaves its way through the same chord progression – and Brandon Flowers wife Tana, who copes with PTSD stemming from childhood trauma. Proving just how personal The Killers latest album is, Flowers played the songs to Tana in order to get her approval before okaying them from the record. A subtle shimmer of distant guitar lines and Brandon Flowers familiar vocal creates such a calming atmosphere things almost reach a meditative state before the emotional ending lyric; ‘I can’t do this alone, we need you at home, there’s so much to see and we know that you’re strong.’

‘Run For Cover’ has less of the ironic swagger of their first single and is a fast paced, punchy track instead. With rapid rhythms, rumbling bass lines and ringing lead guitars the track maintains an impact that powers on to a peaking chorus. The song is reminiscent of their first two albums in terms of the sheer energy and indulgence with probably one too many guitar parts, but it’s a sound that you want to be layed on thick due to the catchiness of it all. It isn’t a perfect track nor their best, but it’s probably the most confident they’ve sounded for over a decade. ‘Rut’ is a bracing piece of power Pop with slamming percussion, clicking rhythms and deep piano chords; a musical environment built for Flowers’s quaking vocal. A nice and well delivered track, but a typical one a far as The Killers are concerned albeit for some joyous vocal peaks at the song’s finish. ‘Tyson V Douglas’ is track that recounts Buster Douglas’ knock out of Mike Tyson. It is a track that focuses the specific narrative via gritty riffs and chiming synths and this track works because of this. ‘Out of my Mind’ is a pure Pop Anthem in which Flowers makes reference to influences of fellow anthem purveyors including McCartney and Springsteen. This song certainly came from Flowers’ retro electronic influences of his solo work and is a welcome addition to the album. This is followed by the darker atmosphere of ‘The Calling’ which features the deep synths and scratchy guitars of Depeche Mode. This is paired by the dusty Desert Rock of Sam’s Town and it makes for a track full of attitude and confidence if the influences are fairly obvious. Wonderful Wonderful is an undoubted improvement on their last album and is a bold, more ambitious affair with better lyrics and more imaginative arrangements. In doing so they’ve delved into familiar territory to fill up the album, but these are more often than not driven and focussed affairs. Apart from that, the album has featured songs that powerful and thought provoking or at the very least show off all their strengths. It’s an inconsistent, but strong return from Las Vegas’ finest. 

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful = 8/10

Owen Riddle and Hayley Miller

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