When attempting to review The Killers’ new album, it’s hard not to be biased – being a fan means I’m already making assumptions before even hearing the goods. However, it also brings with it such a giddy pre-release hype that it’s easy to gather an opinion, simply by weighing up expectations versus welcome surprise – and with Battle Born, there’s plenty of the latter.
Runaways was released way back in July, and if I’m completely honest it was exactly what I was predicting. This track screams The Killers all over, with its crescendo chorus and catchy lyrics, an obvious choice for the pre-album single, and a good one too in terms of gathering mainstream interest – but on the whole, it doesn’t do the rest of this surprisingly complex album justice.
Battle Born‘s intricacy initially comes in the form of its first track Flesh and Bone. One of the most memorable tracks, the combination of effective lyrics and a shiny new rhythm that follows through the rest of the album, makes it a pivotal opener, and one that certainly peaks interest straight away. As soon as you hear this hearty introduction, it’s hard to contain the buzz of what else the album is hiding.
The next few offerings feel like The Killers that we know and love; gritty Americana, beautifully belted out lyrics and some seriously accomplished instrumentals. But there’s a newly developed edge as the album works its magic, a varied mix of tracks that nod towards a plethora of sounds, echoing Hot Fuss all the way to Day and Age – however these memories are only visited in spirit and remain firmly in the past, with the pressure clearly on to move forwards, and in a very promising direction.
Of course, there are some tracks that are stronger than others. Miss Atomic Bomb doesn’t quite deliver anything truly exciting for me, and although it’s still a solid song, it doesn’t sink into the bones as well as some of the others – the most notable being A Matter of Time and Rising Tide.
There’s a definite sense of purpose to Battle Born, a lyrical tightness that, (although can momentarily border on cheesy), creates an intricate new sound that has clearly been nurtured during time that the band has spent apart, and dusted well with that reliable Vegas desert sand.
Neatly wrapped up with the final track we come to an end on a high, and not the usual slow burner that previous albums have adhered to. No matter if you’re a Killers Victim or not, there’s no denying that this album is full bodied and matured to the point of almost contending with the untouchable Hot Fuss. If they were to produce something akin to Mr Brightside now, it certainly wouldn’t settle well in the souls of the fans, who have followed and grown alongside The Killers with an unwavering loyalty.
Battle Born offers a palette of indulgent guitar riffs, extravagant highs and an earthy ‘wear your heart on your sleeve’ selection of lyrics, that only front man Flowers could deliver with such finesse. This is an album from a band that will never give up, and always strive to reach that Vegas induced ambition – to deliver, and to do it well.