Tag Archive: The Killers

This article first appeared at No Ripcord on September 25th, 2012.

Ever since The Killers arrived on the scene with Hot Fuss back in 2004, they’ve struggled to reclaim the popularity and acclaim that album received. Their latest effort, Battle Born, doesn’t quite reach those heights, but it comes close.

Battle Born is the sound of The Killers embracing who they are. Unlike the reactionary Day & Age, this record fully embraces the group’s Springsteen and U2 worshipping ways. Sure, it sounds like the sequel toSam’s Town and in a way, it is. However, the band isn’t anywhere near as self-serious. Instead of morose intensity, you’ll find uninhibited joy for the music they’ve created.

Look at the first single, Runaways, for all the evidence you need. The song begins with the type of outer space synth that’s usually accompanied by the lines “Space, the final frontier…” An acoustic guitar makes its way out over the stars, arriving at Brandon Flowers’ passionate vocals. The slow build erupts as he belts out the lines, “We can’t wait for tomorrow!” over Ronnie Vannucci Jr.’s galloping drums. This is “Born to Run”, Killers-style.

Although it might sound ridiculous given that he’s the band’s most prominent member, but this really is the singer’s album. Vocally, he puts on a stunning performance in nearly every number.Deadlines and Commitments finds him teetering on the edge of his falsetto and regular range, switching between them with easy. He still doesn’t rank among the top lyricists but there’s nothing here as groan-worthy as “Are we human or are we dancer?” Flowers’ gift has always been making words that look average or cheesy on paper sound amazing on record. When he sings “I want you here with me”, he pours on the gravitas so well that you can believe the sentiment. But he can also toss off little vocal loops like how he says “appeal” onRunaways that suggests playfulness behind the microphone.

The rest of the band has evolved along with their singer. The rhythm section of Vannucci Jr. and bassist Mark Stoermer reaches a peak on Miss Atomic Bomb, their tight performance continuously driving the song forward through a few different patterns. Dave Keuning’s guitar work can move from the 80s power rock ofThe Way It Was to the slow-build repeating riff of Battle Born. Both come off as complete natural.

That’s the best way to sum up Battle Born. Unlike some songs on the last couple records, nothing here comes off as forced. It’s surprising, given the difficult gestation period this album went through. But if this is the type of result a struggle in the studio gives them, let’s hope it happens far more often in the future.


This article first appeared at Consequence of Sound on June 18th, 2009.

All-star collaborations have a long history of either being really great or really cheesy. The show’s success or failure depends on which musicians are collaborating, what song they’re playing, and whether the concert has enough weight to handle the superstars sharing the stage. Thankfully, the War Child gig at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire this past winter was the very definition of success.

The concert was coordinated by War Child, an organization that helps children in areas of conflict and post-conflict around the globe, in celebration of their 15th anniversary and the release of their Heroes album. The charity managed to score two of its biggest supporters, Coldplay and The Killers, to play the February 18th show. The concert easily sold out and set the stage for an amazing performance.

The Killers hit the stage first, blasting through a shortened, eight-song set that included the first two singles of Day and Age, as well as their past hits.  Coldplay, fresh from their earlier performance at the BRIT Awards, followed up with a set of their own hits, ranging from “Viva La Vida” to “Yellow”. While the concert probably felt like a unique and great event already, Coldplay’s encore gave the fans more than they could have hoped for.

In the last song of Coldplay’s set, the band brought out Gary Barlow of Take That for a cover of “Back for Good”, a single from the band’s third album, Nobody Else. Following up this performance, Coldplay invited The Killers back to the stage.  The audience cheered while Brandon Flowers sat behind the piano and sang out the first lines of “All These Things That I’ve Done.” As the two bands kicked into the song’s dusty melody, the cheers became a defining roar as Bono casually walked out on stage to join in.

Bono and Flowers exchanged verses while Chris Martin played rhythm guitar and joined in for the chorus.  The bridge quieted everything down for a second but the crowd soon began singing, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier” before any of the artists on stage could. Martin noticed that Barlow had slipped away during the song’s intro and used the small break to retrieve the Take That singer.

By the time the large assembly of musicians went into the final chorus, everyone in the venue was swept up in the song. Both the artists on stage and fans in the audience looked like they were ecstatic to be there. When Bono continued to shout out the soul/soldier line with the audience as the two bands wrapped up the song, it was easy to tell that everyone there knew they had experienced one of the greatest finales of their lives. The fact that the show was for War Child only added to the strength of the performance. The crowd was shouting out not just for their love of the music but also for their support of the organization and the chance to be part of such an intimate show.