The Killers – Wonderful WonderfulCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Half a decade since their last studio album, The Killers stride back to the mainstream with the vibrant and reflective Wonderful Wonderful. With Jackknife Lee taking the helm on production – personally recommended to the band by Bono after a year of false starts in the studio – the record echoes with aftershocks of The Killers’ voluminous stadium-fillers and ceiling-punching dance rock anthems of previous releases. However, despite such signature sounds of one of the most popular rock bands of the early 2000s, like the indie strum fest Run For Cover and the retro-minded flash pop synths of Tyson vs Douglas, the result is more akin to a Brandon Flowers’s solo project. The lead singer and keyboardist plays auteur, as his own personal experiences and meditations on the demands of adult life come to the fore, directing the thematic composition of the album.
The title track opens Wonderful Wonderful with the enticing call of a conch shell before breaking into a looming bass line: “rescue, rescue”. Inspired by and attempting to understand his wife’s struggle with childhood abandonment, depression, and PTSD, Flowers undertakes an inducement of hope and faith in the face of total despair: “Motherless child, follow my voice”. This sermonic onus is contrasted with the funky bravado of The Man, an ironic strut channelling the singer’s cocksure younger self with a sardonic slant suggestive of his developing maturity; complete with driving synths and cash register kerching, Flowers ruffles his feathers in the mirror with the affirmation, “Who’s the man? I’m the man”. Such practices in self-assurance are seemingly invaluable. Rut offers a bare ballad from an ever-vulnerable songwriter, whilst Life to Come reiterates the sentiment of resilience and dependability in a paean to marriage: ‘If you think I’ll buckle, forget it”. Such songs evoke the real-world demands evidently now facing the once 22-year-old superstar. Arguably the standout track, Tyson vs Douglas, explores what it means to see a hero fall as Flowers turns it back upon himself – “And I think of me” – considering his position as a father and hero to his children.
Whilst no doubt sincere and thoughtful in its intention, Wonderful Wonderful only scrapes knuckles with the ceiling without ever quite breaking through, seemingly due to the emphasis of Flowers’s role as a frontman rather than a unified triumph of the group as a whole. With guitarist David Keuning and bassist Mark Stoermer retiring from touring, the past is fading quickly into a future beset with new challenges for Flowers and the band.
Photo: Anton Corbijn
Wonderful Wonderful is released on 22nd September 2017. For further information or to order the album visit The Killers website here.
Watch the video for The Man here: