james debate
james debate

Monday 22 October 2012

Genre Alternative Rock
Label Island
Producers The Killers, Stuart Price, Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Brendan O'Brien, Daniel Lanois

the killers battle born

The Killers returning for their fourth studio album is certainly an event worthy of note. Such is the endurance of their early work that even a decade later it's entirely common to enter a club and hear the DJ play Mr. Brightside to rapturous response

Yet such early career success carries its own burden, and each new release seems to come with diminished hype. This has not been helped by a prolonged hiatus following the previous album, and a potentially ill advised dalliance into solo artistry by various band members. There is the perception of a group that has always struggled to live up to their own lofty standards, which is enormous when the number 1 spot on the albums chart has become the minimum expectation.

Battle Born is an interesting next step for The Killers. While the band has previously been praised for a great diversity of style in their music, this album doubles down on the faux-Springsteen "Americana" streak prominent in certain previous hits such as A Dustland Fairytale and When You Were Young. The band's trademark playfulness is almost entirely absent, with a near constant stream of soul-searching ballads of varying intensity. If this is your idea of The Killers at their best then this album is for you, otherwise you may find it difficult to get into.

There are notable exceptions. Flesh and Bone opens the album with a belter of a song, taking the uplifting vibe reminiscent of Human that is more commonly associated with the Killers. Meanwhile the titular Battle Born closes proceedings with an equally triumphant stadium filling anthem. However beyond this lies an album of almost pure cheese. Sometimes it works, landing on the right side of "charm": for an example see the excellent Miss Atomic Bomb and lead single Runaways. Otherwise there is little that stands out.

This is not to say that Battle Born is a bad album. On the contrary, once you get into it the album as a whole is quite listenable. The trouble is that on first listen the unflinching tone can be quite monotonous, and unlike previous releases there is little payoff for perseverance. The good news is that if this pattern of relatively weak even numbered albums continues, their next one ought to be a corker.

Must Listen:
Flesh and Bone
Miss Atomic Bomb
Battle Born

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