Originally published in the Hindu Metroplus Showcase on September 22, 2012.
The Killers – Battle Born
“Don’t want your picture here on your cell phone, I want you here with me,” Brandon Flowers sings on ‘Here With Me’, the fourth track off their latest album ‘Battle Born’. There’s a range of emotions on this album, but what predominantly flows through is a message of resilience and persistence – through good times and bad.
It’s a good thing they start out upbeat early on, with their first single ‘Runaways’ immediately conveying all those influences from the ‘80s – including the arena rock-inspired tunes of U2.
In reality, there is not much that has changed about the Killers’ approach to music, apart from the over-bearing disco/dance rock to it, as previously criticised in ‘Day & Age’. The lyrics are quirky but heartfelt (“This natural selection picked me out to be a dark horse running in a fantasy” on ‘Flesh and Bone’) and the soundscapes creeping into the background (and sometimes, foreground) range from the short and jumpy to the slow and meditative.
One of the first songs they performed live, ‘The Rising Tide’, is clearly one of the more versatile songs where their formula works. The poetic pictures painted by Flowers includes “the streets of persuasion/
Are plated with gold/your heart’s in the right place, But you travel down the wrong road.” The mention of neon lights itself is probably wonderful for any fan of the Killers, and their endless fascination with the backdrop of their home town, Las Vegas.
The more guitar-led songs such as ‘Heart of a Girl’ and ‘From Here on Out’ contrast in being soggy and upbeat respectively, but the glass slide by guitarist Dave Keuning is a healthy addition for them to keep on the rock side of things, emulating Bruce Springsteen in many ways.
‘Deadlines and Commitments’ has a slow-dance pop setting to it, with enough synth, bass and drums for Flowers’ vocals to croon away about work-world contracts, offers and strategies applied to real-world situations.
The title track that closes the album packs the whole album in, brings it to an operatic swell, just as Flowers holds your hand to transmit the hope, like the lyrics suggest. The Killers aren’t doing anything too special with ‘Battle Born’, but they are reviving a great era of rock, adding their own elements along the way.