Responsible for some of the biggest dance-rock-super-hits of the past 14 years, Las Vegas rockstars The Killers are about to hit our shores to celebrate the release of their fifth studio album Wonderful Wonderful. As part of a healthy warm up routine, we’ve taken a look at the evolution of their sound, all the way from where it started back in 2004 and when the world fell in love.
It would be complete blasphemy to select any other song from this unbelievable debut album chock full of feelings and mega-hooks as the ultimate highlight. Close contenders read like the album track-listing (‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘All These Things I’ve That I’ve Done’, ‘Believe Me Natalie’, and ‘Midnight Show’ could all stand above the rest on any other album) but the reality is, no other song so perfectly captures The Killers’ unique and powerful blend of quirky, angst-ridden lyrics, guitars in tune with your heartstrings, crashing drums and glistening dance floor synths. Considering the track just marked its 200th week in the UK Top 100, it looks like no other track makes us so happy to dance and cry at the same time.
Towards the end of an album that leans more towards twangy guitar riffs, ‘Bones’ is a surprising leap out of their comfort zone into brilliance for The Killers. Opening with a choir beckoning “Come with me”, the track instantly pulls us into an anti-romance narrative where a beach date consists of crying on the “cold wet dirt” and intimacy is anatomical. The quickly escalating soundscape features their classic synth hooks as well as heavy smatterings of brass and some tinkling keys. Brandon Flowers’ voice reaches new heights in this track too, as he yelps and croons his way through various stages of anxiety and regret. In all its extravagance, ‘Bones’ is quite possibly The Killers’ most fun track.
The Killers’ third studio album saw them take the path they were always destined for – shimmering synth pop band. Still littered with moments of oddball indie rock, Day & Age features many distinctively great songs like soft anthem ‘Human’, alien-abduction tale ‘Spaceman’ and rock ballad ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ but the standout for its very simplicity has to be ‘This Is Your Life’. Starting with an exotic vocal hook, the track is reigned into familiar territory with understated bass, chiming synths and a steady beat. Flowers is known for his storytelling lyrics but these are probably some of his best, as killer lines like “The cops, they’ll steal your dreams and they’ll kill your prayers” shape an all too relatable tale of underachievement. Whilst still powerful, Flowers’ voice takes on a new sensitivity in this album, no longer hiding vulnerability behind flamboyancy.
After a four year wait, The Killers released an album full of their signature sound amplified to stadium size in 2012. With Flowers’ shaking croon still guiding choruses of luscious synths, ripping guitars and dance beats, the only notable difference between this and their debut 8 years earlier is the unbelievably crisp production, lending them a huge rock ‘n’ roll sound. Opening track ‘Flesh And Bone’ is full of so many ideas it deserves revisiting. From a video-game-esque harpsichord intro, cinematic piano and strings, ’80s delay drums and angelic choirs to blues organ, pizzicato strings, reaching synths, spoken word and grand, vibrato-saturated vocals, these four minutes prepare you for all possibilities on the remaining 11 tracks.
What a comeback track. What a change. Released last year, ‘The Man’ exploded into our consciousness with its infectious funk and irresistible grit. Swapping out angst for sass, this track rips through the airwaves with dark bass, funky guitars and and oodles of confidence. Flowers’ swings effortlessly between sweet falsetto hooks and formidable statements like “Nothing can break me down”. Lifted with a gospel chorus, robotic sound effects and sprinklings of synths, ‘The Man’ is different to anything The Killers have done before but just as likely to get you dancing into a sweat. Coming five years after their previous studio album, Wonderful Wonderful is full of surprises, most of which pay off as completely as this slick, dirty disco track.