Album Review- “Wonderful Wonderful” by The Killers

WRITTEN BY: JACK O’ROURKE

The year is 2017. It has been over a decade since the release of the indie-rock anthem packed album, “Hot Fuss.” Spending most of 2015 and 2016 in and out of studio, charismatic frontman, Brandon Flowers struggled with figuring out what The Killers should sound like in 2017.

With the pressure to follow up their less than spectacular fourth studio album, “Battle Born” in the back of their minds, the Vegas rock quartet called for all hands-on deck, including enlisting the help of legendary U2 and REM producer, Jacknife Lee.

As The Killers have often done throughout their illustrious thirteen year career, the band known for headlining festivals and producing arena-rock anthems, once again delivered, releasing their fifth full-length album, “Wonderful Wonderful.” If there is one thing to take away from the album, “Wonderful Wonderful” does not sound anything like “Battle Born,” in fact the album does not sound like anything The Killers have ever done before.

The Killers were once recognized by their signature guitar chord progression and synthesizer-filled choruses that made their first two albums so unique. 2017’s Killers would feel much at home in the 80’s with Springsteen-esque influences found all over the new album. To his credit, over the past decade, Flowers has become a much better vocalist than his raw-sounding earlier tone, which has led to more vocally dynamic sounding songs. Lyrically, the band has evolved from the tough guy swagger of the “Hot Fuss” and “Sam’s Town” era, to a much more matured and emotionally transparent group of musicians.

Contrary to what the album’s title suggests, the record is far from a happy reflection on their career. With songs about Flowers’ wife’s struggle with PTSD to self-consciousness about perceived masculinity, the track list offers a much darker subject than “Wonderful Wonderful” leads the listener to believe.

Over the summer, The Killers released a trio of singles off the album. The first of the three singles, “The Man” is a reflection back on Flowers’ earlier years in the band and the ego he carried with him. The song is littered with funky bass lines and synthesizer filled verses- a signature sound of bassist Mark Stoermer’s musical style. New to The Killers’ arsenal, was the presence of both female background singers and a Daft Punk sounding vocal backing. For listeners expecting the old Killers sound, the song definitely takes a few listens before you can truly form an opinion of the song and the mimicked Bee Gees-level funk in it.

My personal favorite and the highlight of the album is without a doubt, “Run For Cover.” The second of the three singles released over the summer is a song that came out of the “Day & Age” recording process. The energetic song starts off with an upbeat guitar riff before moving into the fast-paced verses of the song. The eight-year-old song has a similar rhythm to that of the hit song “Spaceman,” but blends the upbeat guitar with vocal runs consistent with that of “Runaways,” to form the perfect union of old and new.

There are few people in the music industry as motivated as Brandon Flowers to be the best. Often criticizing the drive of his fellow bandmates, Flowers strives to propel The Killers from their 2000s-indie rock relevancy to being among the all-time greats. Possessing the longevity to do so, Flowers will single-handedly take the band as far as he can carry them, with his sights set on U2-level greatness. Ironically enough, Bono unintentionally contributed to their album when Flowers reached out to Bono for his opinion, which resulted in the name of the last track of the album, “Have All the Songs Been Written?”

Hailing from an era of music where most of the bands no longer tour or have failed to release anything of substance since the 2000s, The Killers are the lone survivors of a generation of indie-rock bands. The “Hot Fuss” era Killers may never return in studio form, but they continue to find ways to reinvent themselves and stay relevant in an ever changing 21st century world of music. Brandon Flowers may never be able to write another song with the lasting impact and greatness of “Mr. Brightside,” but one thing is certain, The Killers are back and they have plenty of “gas in the tank.”

Catch the Killers on tour in Philly this winter!

Track list:

  1. Wonderful Wonderful
  2. The Man
  3. Rut
  4. Life to Come
  5. Run For Cover
  6. Tyson vs Douglas
  7. Some Kind Of Love
  8. Out of My Mind
  9. The Calling
  10. Have All the Songs Been Written?