It’s been 10 years since The Killers released “Hot Fuss.” I wonder what it would feel like in their shoes, where the first album and the first hits are the ones everyone wants from you. It’s the classic catch-22 of striking gold – where do you from there? I’ve seen plenty of critics, and heard plenty of friends, deride their later work including the most recent, “Battle Born,” for being too theatrical, too formulaic, too boring. But I’ve found I enjoy it, especially the title track. While the edge, the cynicism, of their earlier work has dulled some, it’s been replaced with a wiser perspective. Instead of dark anguish of relationships like “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” or “Mr.Brightside,” there’s contemplation, there’s soul-searching. Instrumentally, where they once were trendsetters in pop rock, they’ve taken a more classic approach with clean guitar solos, well-balanced ambiance. They’ve got that dessert feel, though, that Vegas-Route 66-cowboy approach they cultivated during “Sam’s Town” and never really let go of.
One thing that’s remained consistent is Brandon Flowers’ songwriting – it is direct, it is cutting, it is comfort. It is literary, in a sort of post-modern way, about spirit and surroundings and sexuality. You could make an argument that, of all bands that have stuck around for a decade or so, The Killers have retained this sort of borderline pretension, not really *fitting* in any scenes and seeming like they’d be bothered if you tried to do so, but I’ve never been one to give much of a damn about that sort of thing if I’m enjoying listening to your music. And when you write songs this anthematic, how could I not?
“Up against the wall
There’s something dying on the street
When they knock you down
You’re gonna get back on your feet
Cause you can’t stop now
Did they break your heart?
And did they cause your soul to mourn
Remember what I said
Boy, you was battle born
Cause you can’t stop now.
Cause you can’t stop now“
The Killers, Battle Born