By John Glynn
Battle Born arrives after a rather extensive break for The Killers. It’s most definitely an album that delivers a real statement of intent, emphasizing the quartet’s progressively anthem-driven romanticism. “Flesh and Bone” is the opening track, a captivating tune which delivers a gentle electronic beat, instantly reminding you just why the four men from Las Vegas are so important for music right now. Battle Born is relentless, sprinting along at a pace that would leave Usain Bolt breathless and exhausted. Yes, after a few listens, I can clarify that this album is about as mainstream as rock gets, carelessly flirting with a cheesy power ballad backdrop on “Here With Me.” But fear not, the cheesy, often gimmicky musical experience is one that should be embraced. This is 65 minutes of glorious vocal outpouring; Brandon Flowers is back to his very best. “The Way it Was” sees the man from Nevada do a rather strange Morrissey meets Bruce Springsteen rendition, a formula that actually produces a truly beautiful track.
Opening with delicate keyboards and an acoustic guitar, ‘Runaways’ highlights the Killers’ fascination with small-town Americana, a fact that was extremely apparent on 2006′s ‘Sam’s Town.’ Flowers recites a beautiful story about a teenage love that led to a fairytale wedding, but now the fairytale has become a nightmare, the cracks in the marriage are starting to expand, slowly consuming the young lovers hopes and dreams . Echoes of Springsteen’s ‘The River’ are there for all to hear, the final verse with its automobile imagery strongly accentuating the influence of Bruce upon the quartet.
The boys have clearly ditched their British influences in favor of a more American approach. Flowers has apparently decided to adopt a Springsteen type persona, studying everything from his lyrical content to poetic delivery. In a previous interview, after discovering the brilliance of Bruce, Flowers told MTV, “I couldn’t believe how happy his music made me and how good it was. He’s a gift, and I didn’t know. I mean, I knew ‘Born In The USA’ and ‘Glory Days,’ but I didn’t know that he covered so much ground, and there was something in his music that touched what I was going through, the process of falling back in love with my America. Springsteen touches on the American dream, and that’s everybody’s dream.” I think it’s safe to say that Brandon quite likes Bruce.
The twelve songs are crammed with thespian styled clichés, an element that has always been a staple part of The Killers musical diet. This band ignores moderation, instead opting for excess in its purest form. Each listener is welcomed to a dramatic world of shattered dreams, runaways (pardon the pun), desolate tracts and thieves pinching your heart and soul. It’s no real surprise, even with all these truisms thrown in, Flowers and company pull it off. Many will argue that there is nothing here that rivals the greatness of “Somebody Told Me” or “Human” but those absolute gems set the musical bar extremely high, leaving the band with the unenviable task of trying to recreate that true greatness.