The Killers Return In Schmaltzy Battle Born
Over their first two albums The Killers earned their reputation by writing powerful songs that were backed by pop-oriented music. In their last LP, 2008’s Day & Age, The Killers transitioned into more emotional music that put lead singer Brandon Flowers into the foreground of their work. Next Tuesday, Las Vegas’s finest return in Battle Born, a 12-track record that is packed with emotion and ballads as the band takes its deepest plunge into that evolution of their sound.
Named after their Nevada recording studios, Battle Born is heavily reliant on open bass, a mellow synth, and the pure sensitivity that pours from Flowers’s voice. This is apparent from the outset of the record and continues well into Battle Born. Throughout the album, Flowers seems to be singing to a predominately female audience as he narrates lyrics that reflect love and heartbreak. This is most apparent in “Miss Atomic Bomb” and the LP’s lead single, “Runaways,” where The Killers created what is seemingly a desert version of “Don’t Stop Believing.” Of the ballads, the tracks “A Matter of Time” and “Flesh and Bone” best relay the sensitivity of The Killers’ songwriting.
Nine tracks into the record, a welcome change of pace is ushered into Battle Born in “The Rising Tide,” the most eclectic-sounding song on the LP. By melding synth, piano, and a blistering guitar bit from David Keuning, The Killers flash a sampling of their old sound. The Killers’ variance then veers into an ill-advised track that features Flowers singing alongside a gospel choir. As the record nears its conclusion, Flowers shows off his Bono-like vocal prowess on “Be Still.”
Unfortunately, instead of being a terrific exception that leaves the audience wowed, “Be Still” is a bit too much emotional. In what appears to be the recent trend for The Killers, Battle Born is more akin to Flowers’ solo record, Flamingo, than Hot Fuss. The lead singer seems to have grasped control of the band’s sound, handcuffing what had been a terrific pop sound. Fans who prefer that aspect of The Killers sound will love this record, leaving the rest of us yearning for “Somebody Told Me” or “Mr. Brightside.”
Battle Born will be available on September 18 as a digital download, CD, deluxe edition CD, and limited edition red vinyl. The Killers will play a plethora of tour dates in 2012 and 2013, including a slew of stops in Europe and North America.