Opinion
By S
éamus Smyth

It’s as though The Killers locked themselves in a room for the past four years and nominated strictly classic 80s rock for repetitive listening. It’s incredible how their new album Battle Born reflects no other form of music available to the masses of 2012. It is an 80’s album that managed to sail through time to be either be enjoyed or ridiculed by a generation anticipating something special.

How could it possibly be good? How have these Las Vegas cowboys somehow manipulated the forces of time and created an album that sounds born 30 years ago but made for today? It’s a boisterous yet timid creation and easily the longest love letter the Killers have ever penned. For the first time in four albums, the shining stars of a Killers record are the slow-burning ballads.

“Maybe a thief stole your heart,” sounds like a line that would have been repeated in the library of The Breakfast Club, but is instead a signature line of Brandon Flowers in “The Way It Was.” The song has movie-magic written all over it, with confetti practically falling from its melodies. It sounds like a single, and if audiences could refrain from indulging in the dance/rap love affair currently dominating airwaves, fans might discover something timeless.

The progression of Flowers’ voice makes the album worth a listen alone. When the group debuted he had a signature tone, but surely was no Pavarotti. Yet even the pairing of Flowers’ voice with utter silence sounds like a smash. Previously the Killers almost joked about love, snickering over ex-girlfriends and chicks named Natalie, but not on Battle Born. The Killers sound as though they are falling in love every song, a notable contrast from the paranoia and global feel of their previous work, Day & Age.

“Be Still” is as cold as the Nevada desert and is maybe the most serious moment of the album. The beginning sounds directionless until drummer Ronnie Vannucci steers it to safety with a cautious, but necessary rhythm.

It’s easy to forget that Flowers is now 31 years old and can not only provide guidance, but can share enlightening advice. Where many would allow their religious devotion to overshadow their material, Flowers’ lines are ambiguous enough to sound purely inspirational, especially in the tail end of “Be Still.”

The album isn’t entirely made for slow-dancing, as the best song on the album, “Miss Atomic Bomb,” is an absolute rattlesnake.  It features the signature riff of “Mr. Brightside,” which could sound like a cheap ploy to solidify a hit, but instead comes off as a charming ode to how far they have come as a band.

The group have dawned leather jackets for the promotion of Battle Born, which is finally justified with the title track. It has rock n’ roll thorns protruding from its core that could pierce steel and has balls that could fend off jackhammers. It’s their toughest and one of their most complete songs to rise from the concrete, and serves as evidence that this is still true rock, despite the constant romanticism of Flowers.

The Killers no longer belong on the radio or in the dance clubs, but this has been by their choosing. They come from an era that hasn’t existed since the mid-90s, so they survive as artifacts of a time when music had a completely different DNA.  They have become an impressive hybrid of Bruce Springsteen and Joy Division, and although sometimes the two clash in the middle, it more often than not, sounds like one of the rarest spectacles to arise in the new millennium. The Killers aren’t going anywhere and we should all be grateful because if they could, they’d be back wearing mascara and fist pumping to “Born in the USA,” faster than you can say Thunder Road.

8/10

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