In high school, The Killers were my favorite band. I loved their ability to craft radio-friendly singles consistently with what seemed to be the greatest of ease. But at some point, I outgrew them. In recent years, I’ve found myself gravitating towards what I believe to be more complex or mature artists. It’s something I’ve gone through with a lot of bands I liked in high school. A band rises to peak popularity and I gracefully step aside for the new generation of fans. So I can’t say I was thrilled for Battle Born but was I still willing to give my once favorite group a shot? I’m only human… Or dancer.
Battle Born is The Killers’ fourth album and if you didn’t know where these guys were from before you’ll certainly know afterward. The Killers have such affection for their home state of Nevada that they use it as the subject for almost every song. Even the album’s title “Battle Born” is the same phrase that’s front and center on Nevada’s state flag. The Killers are proud of their American Southwest roots and explore those themes more prominently than ever. Songs fantasize about driving across the desert or by old Vegas hotels with a sincere nostalgic fondness. I love the ideas behind the songs, but the songs themselves?
The Killers used to be the band I could depend on for catchy singles, but Battle Born doesn’t swing that way. Instead, Battle Born focuses on complex arrangements that continually build. Take the lead single “Runaways”. There’s no real chorus, no hook, but is it good? It’s okay, just different. I admire that The Killers are experimenting with structure, it’s just not The Killers I remember. “The Way It Was” is the closest to The Killers’ sound I hold to my heart, but I don’t feel that way for any other song on Battle Born.
It’s funny, here I am complaining about The Killers not being mature enough and now that they’re trying to be mature I lose interest. It’s hard to say how much of a balance I’d like between radio pop friendliness and mature lyrics, but this isn’t it. Battle Born is beautifully produced but it’s too heavy on ballads and meandering structures. I like the addition of more synths but it’s not enough to truly resonant. Either way, it’s still a noble effort and I’ll continue to keep an ear out for these sons of Vegas.
Favorite Tracks: “Flesh and Bone”, “The Rising Tide”, “The Way it Was”