In 2004, the Killers dropped one of the best debut albums of the 21st century. “Hot Fuss” gave us “Mr. Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done.” Their second album, “Sam’s Town,” was even better. It seemed like the band was on a clear path of improving and creating grand synth-pop and pop rock records. While they did continuously release extremely catchy songs, the problem with the third, fourth and fifth albums was the monotony. There was little evolution in musical composition or lyrical prowess. When the band announced the release date of their sixth album, I was met with a great contradiction between what I wanted and what I expected from the album. I wanted the Killers’ style but with a fresh and unique spin; however, I expected the same sound they’d been using for 20 years.
Finally, Aug. 28, the Killer’s dropped “Imploding the Mirage,” and my questions were answered.
The album opened with “My Soul’s Own Warning,” which was a song that seemed to be following the band’s usual formula of breathy vocals building up to an upbeat chorus. With similar pacing as “Human”, I was worried that this was the start of the sixth version of the same album.
“Blowback” was where things started to take a turn. The dichotomy between its heartland rock chorus and pop-rock verses showed the duality of the Killers as a band, effectively translating music styles from the 80s and 90s into catchy, radio-friendly songs.
The next song, “Dying Breed,” builds on that genre-blending model with a cross of synth-pop and Bruce Springsteen musical styles. The lyrics are cheerful and resounding. Love was a major theme in the Killer’s last album “Wonderful Wonderful”, with lyrics inspired by Brandon Flowers’ wife’s struggles with PTSD, but the tone of “Dying Breed” is happier and more romantic.
“Caution” was the album’s first single, and it was a great choice. It encompasses the sound and themes of the entire album while also being extremely relatable. The song describes feelings of being trapped and restless, but then “throwing caution to the wind” and just taking a leap of faith. The Killers have a strong sense of their sound, and it was clear from “Caution” that these are the same people who made “Hot Fuss” 16 years ago. This is one to be performed in stadiums.
In their previous five albums, there have been no features. “Lightning Fields” marked the first ever Killers song with a featured artist. k.d lang’s vocals flowed effortlessly with Brandon Flowers’, and the song signified a return to the romantic lyrics of “Dying Breed.” This is a song that will make you happy.
However, “Fire in Bone” and “Running Towards a Place” fell flat. While they were both catchy and not bad songs by any means, they just didn’t feel special or different.
The second feature of the album arrived in “My God.” While the song was enjoyable, I did not feel that the choice of Weyes Blood as a guest was wise. Weyes Blood has a beautiful tone, but her sound with Flowers’ seemed disjointed and ruined the effect of “My God” as a whole.
The best song in the album is “When the Dreams Run Dry.” It started with Flowers’ signature soft vocals but slowly built in intensity into a gigantic first chorus complete with an echoing synthesizer. One minute and six seconds in, however, with the words “we’re all going to die,” the song shifted completely. It was as if the realization that we only have one life transcended into the tempo of the song. This change was felt in the production, with the synths striking stronger and the rhythm moving faster, making the chorus hit all the more harder the second time around.
This album marked a journey of letting go of the past and moving forward. This was evident in the sound of the entire album; my fears of the band remaining stagnant were not realized. “Imploding the Mirage,” the final song, closed the album on a high note. The lyrics were a bit nonsensical but nevertheless fun, fitting into the positive nature of the album as a whole.
At the end of the album, I was left… happy. The Killers take an approach different from most in their genre: they’re optimistic. I felt this album showcased a growth in musical composition with every song having a different sound. The mirage was definitely imploded, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Killers evolve even more.
Get The Dirt
Subscribe to our weekly email about what's trending at Duke