The Killers have never produced understated music. In fact, quite the opposite has been the standard for the alternative “indie” rock giants, whose output reflects every aspect of the bright lights and gaudy hedonism of their hometown hailing, Las Vegas.
Careering onto the scene with 2004’s highly-praised post-punk revival Hot Fuss, Brandon Flowers’ crew as never relented with their progression and growth as a larger-than-life modern rock band. The more personal and conceptualized sophomore effort, Sam’s Town, saw the band swerving to ditch the alternative rock club night hits for a coherent and polished story-driven album that gained as many followers as it did neglect its existing fanbase. From here on out, a B-Side record and another LP have hit shelves worldwide, which have whetted anticipation for the Killers next gargantuan, stadium-filling beast, Battle Born.
Proclaimed as a foray into the genre of heartland rock, the band taps into its Americana and hard rock influences drawing on clear influences from legendary artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Dylan from his controversial ‘electric’ transformation. With a revival of this style, only a truly confident and arguably established act could hope to pull out all the stops to truly deliver on a grandiose and high-flying scale. When it comes to these traits, there are few contemporary artists that match these criteria, but The Killers more than certainly fit the bill.
In certain respects, Battle Born seems like a continuation of the themes and musical ideas expressed on Sam’s Town, drawing on lyrical concepts and epic-scaled orchestration and shimmering production that would sound out of place if it was to come from any other band than this. For some reason, the Killers totally suit this style and actually make the less-than-appealing brand of ‘Stadium Rock’, actually seem somewhat delectable. That being said, of course no amount of arena-fillers will always taste somewhat sickly after a while.
Storming, pummelling rock tracks such as Runaways and the title track show that Flowers & co. still have the drive and talent to cater to the thousands of screaming fans this record will no doubt continue to please. Despite all of the controversy surrounding their status as an “indie” band, and whether or not the alternative music channels will be playing this record for as long as they have done with the band’s output in the past, The Killers are going to continue making the music that they want to, regardless of any criticism they may take, and you have to respect them for that.