By John Dickinson
It seems like once every few years, the frontman of a successful pop-rock group goes into his attic, finds his dad’s old Bruce Springsteen records, plays them for a week straight, and then writes an album. The result is usually a forced bowel movement of a record, with each song trying to sound as anthemic as “Born to Run” or as heartfelt as “For You.”
Greetings From The Killers.
Being a New Jersey native myself, I can thoroughly enjoy the heavily reverbed drums and macho guitar licks that catapulted one Asbury Park kid into stardom. But with that being said, there’s a point where imitation and flattery cease to overlap. For the Killers, that point is when they abandoned their own originality because they thought they were getting too old to play “Somebody Told Me” forever.
On the whole, the album is a clumsy satire of the 1980’s. Overuse of synthesizers we haven’t heard in thirty years and hook-less choruses seem to be the dominant musical theme on the album, with catchy licks and riffs being few and far between. “Here With Me” will probably remind you of the song they played to close your junior prom – the tacky string section and arpeggiated Moog keyboards sound just about as awkward as the dance moves of the attendees, while frontman Brandon Flowers’ vocals can be translated into something like, “Your date’s not gonna go all the way with you tonight”.
Similarly, “Deadlines and Commitments” sounds like it was written from sheet music found in the dumpster outside Phil Collins’ apartment, while the reprisal of the famous “Mr. Brightside” guitar riff in “Miss Atomic Bomb” seems to scream “Hey everyone! Remember that time we were nominated for a Grammy?” Flowers’ newly acquired vibrato is a bit excessive for his usually effortless Nevada purr, while he also dilutes his lyrics dramatically, probably in an attempt to reel in comparisons of him to Bono or The Boss. Sorry Brandon, but not everyone is easily swooned by impassive lines like, “I saw you in a restaurant the other day/And instead of walking towards you, I ran away.”
With all this being said, the album has a handful of enjoyable moments. “A Matter of Time” is beautifully nostalgic of the group’s older material, as the driving rhythm section showcases the talents of bassist Mark Stoermer, who practically carries the song on his back. “Heart of a Girl” features a double-bass line that may call to mind the use of similar technique in Lou Reed’s “Walk On The Wild Side,” which makes for a nice break from the reality of the album. The opening track, “Flesh and Bone,” is a hypnotic tune with reversed guitars and bleeping synths – sadly, these elements are short-lived, as the song escalates into an anticlimactic chorus fit for a Cyndi Lauper song.
Having Alan Moulder behind the knobs was probably the wisest decision in the formation of Battle Born, as the production of the record shines above all else. The album may employ the same drum patterns and synth patches over and over, but at least they sound professional. I genuinely believe that The Killers put many hours of hard work into Battle Born. They simply made the wrong record – a copy key designed to fit into the lock to the hearts of dads across America – instead of continuing to explore their talents as indie-pop pioneers. The album is a farce, but nothing The Killers can’t bounce back from.
Check out all the lyrics to The Killers’ Battle Born on Stereo IQ:
The Killers – Battle Born Lyrics
The Killers – Be Still Lyrics
The Killers – Deadlines
and Commitments Lyrics
The Killers – Flesh And Bone Lyrics
The Killers – From Here On Out Lyrics
The Killers – Heart Of A Girl Lyrics
The Killers – Here With Me Lyrics
The Killers – A Matter of Time Lyrics
The Killers – Miss Atomic Bomb Lyrics
The Killers – The Rising Tide Lyrics
The Killers – Runaways Lyrics
The Killers – The Way It Was Lyrics