The Killers Mix Sincerity With Flamboyance on New Album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’
The Killers have been quiet in recent years. Lead singer Brandon Flowers has spent a lot of time overcoming writer’s block, tending to his family and trying his hand at a solo career. His bandmates all live in different states now, with lives of their own, making a fifth studio album all the more difficult to create. Through this, however, the Las Vegas-formed rock band made it work with “Wonderful Wonderful” (Sept. 22), a complex album with rotating themes stemming from the minds of mature rock stars.
Though this may not be the first thing that came to mind when the funk infused lead single “The Man” dropped earlier this summer. This song is chock full of Flowers’ omni-present swagger. Picture the lead singer strutting about stage as Funkadelic bass lines lead listeners back in time. “I got gas in the tank/I got money in the bank/I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man” boasts Flowers during the chorus. He is at least partly known for his moxie. Take a 2015 Tweet that read, “I never said The Killers were the “best” band of the last 15 years, that’d be crazy arrogant. Top 3 though, I’ll stand by that.” Though the flamboyance comes first, the authenticity takes center stage.
“Rut” phases in the sincere part of the album. An instantaneously moving synth progression leads a voice modulated woman, presumably Flowers’ wife Tana with whom the song was written, singing “Don’t give up on me/’Cause I’m in a rut.” The song details his wife’s struggles with PTSD, with Flowers singing directly from her perspective. “So I’m handing you a memory/I hope you understand/That steadily reminds you/Of who I really am,” he sings during the bridge. Overall hopeful and uplifting, “Rut” closes out with a tear-inducing crescendo that could fit as the anthem to any number of important mental-health ailments. “Some Kind of Love” follows suit. Also pulled from his wife’s PTSD and mental health issues, this song both eloquently and personally serves to remind her of her own importance in their family with lines like “You’ve got the soul of a truck/On a long distance haul” or “You’ve got the faith of a child/Before the world gets in.” Even their own children join for a meaningful chorus at the close of the song singing “Can’t do this alone/We need you at home.”
Sentiment aside, there’s plenty to dig into that doesn’t involve tears. “Life to Come,” a U2-esque power ballad sounds like U2 because, well, it was produced by former U2 producer Ryan Tedder. In fact, that’s specifically why the band sought his touch according to an interview Flowers did with Entertainment Weekly. “There’s a song he did with U2 on “Songs of Innocence” called “Every Breaking Wave,” that to me, was the best song on the record.” Flowers’ voice stands resolute imploring the woman in the song to have faith in him, as he belts, in a very Bono-way, “If you call my name/Whether or not it’s tonight/Or the life to come.” “Run for Cover” was written nine years ago but sat on the shelf with Flowers’ brother sending him the song every once and a while to “gently remind” him that it still exists and that he “wants it to be heard.” “Tyson vs. Douglas” literally details the fight Mike Tyson had against Buster Douglas, in which the then undefeated Tyson was knocked out in an upset. Flowers says regarding the song that, as a father, he’s responsible for his children’s livelihood and worries that one day he himself may be knocked down. From reality to metaphor, this may seem a tad silly, but the point gets across nonetheless.
Overall, “Wonderful Wonderful” shows a songwriter whose talents have been profoundly influenced by his family and his age, both as a man and a musician. Even the band’s bassist decided it was time to hang up his touring hat to focus on family life. With age comes experience, and with experience comes better, more engrossed songwriting. That’s what this album is all about.
“Wonderful Wonderful” is available Sept. 22 on Apple Music.