The Killers

Battle Born

Written by: TL on 04/10/2012 19:40:21

When The Killers exploded into mainstream fame with their first two albums "Hot Fuss" and "Sam's Town", it quickly became all too easy to start taking them for granted - To feel that like a cornerstone big time band, like Muse, Coldplay, U2 or Green Day, The Killers was going to be a band that could be relied upon to release positively huge wide-appealing singles, but whose albums in their entirety would always exist in the shadow of those very same singles. It was unfair, because "Hot Fuss" and "Sam's Town" were both great albums, yet the third album "Day & Age" more than legitimised this view, by amounting disappointingly to little more than the impact of its single "Human".

Since The Killers started releasing information - post-solo endeavour of frontman Brandon Flowers - about their fourth album "Battle Born", there's been a feeling around the corners of the internet that this would be a return to form. Something about the title, the art, the trailer and the bits of music one could hear just made it seem like this would be good comeback. And now that "Battle Born" has been released, it should be clear as soon as you let it fill your headphones at a properly loud volume, that it is indeed what it was promised to be. Oh yes, it is that and then some.

With the core instruments of guitar, drums and bass building simplistic yet bombastic structures fitting of the band's massive status, Flowers has outdone himself not just as a singer, but more importantly as an orchestrator of synthesizers, joining the five different producers that have worked on the record in creating one of the biggest sounding records I have heard since 30 Seconds Mars' "This Is War". The 'normal' instruments are conventional, sentimental American big rock, but the synths and samples coat them in icy, new wave grandeur so monumental, that the record would probably echo hollowly if it wasn't for the personal and nostalgic lyrics that serve to anchor the soaring emotions in a place that is extraordinarily tender and ultimately relateable to almost anyone.

In its best moments then, "Battle Born" is made of the same yearning and heartache that made songs like "For Reasons Unknown", "When You Were Young" and "Mr. Brightside" so compelling. The difference here is that this feeling might not come with as much obvious single quality as it has on prior Killers records. Instead it comes with an elegance and intricacy that takes the music out of this world. There is simply a treasure trove of spine chilling details to discover here, and I could go on at length about how the synths spiral in under the second pre-chorus of "Here With Me"; how the climax to the fantastic "A Matter Of Time" just goes on and on, getting more and more intense by the measure; how Flowers invokes A-ha's breathy, tender sentimentality towards the end of "Deadlines And Commitments", how centre piece "Miss Atomic Bomb" shines with it's "Don't Stop Believing"-ish first verse and it's rousing, prolonged second pre-chorus or how the dramatic plea of "Be Still"'s chorus just wrenches my heart every single time.

Moments like these, piled high as they are on "Battle Born", make for an album that is one of the hugest, most richly detailed, carefully written and utterly romantic records I can remember hearing in a long, long time. Moreover, the record is fascinating simply for its style, placing a warm heart of sentimental American, Springsteen-ish songwriting amidst massive, freezy synths from the new wave of A-ha, White Lies or The Jezabels.

What is most mad about this record however, is not that one of the catchiest songs written for it, the ridiculously charming "Prize Fighter", was saved for the deluxe edition. That's not it, I am merely hinting that you should get the deluxe edition to get that song. No, what is most mad about "Battle Born" is that I had actually written it off as a dull record after a handful of half-assed listens on my stereo, before the full brilliance of its compositions finally opened to me, when I put it on in my headphones a few weeks back. Since then I have not wanted to go a day without hearing it at least once, and there is truthfully no end to the things I would write about it, if it wasn't for fear of spoiling it for you. So don't make the same mistake as I first did. Get this and play it loudly on the best sound system you have. There's no reason to wait until you see it near the top of my Albums of the Year list.


Download: A Matter Of Time, Miss Atomic Bomb, Be Still, Deadlines And Commitments
For The Fans Of: A-ha, White Lies, The Jezabels, Bruce Springsteen

Release Date 17.09.2012
Island / Vertigo

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