james debate
james debate

Saturday 22 August 2020

Genre Rock
Label Island
Producers Shawn Everett

imploding the mirage the killers best new album 2020

With some bands, the release of the new album is seen as an event. The Killers are one such band. Fifteen years later Mr. Brightside is still a roof raiser and yet it is only the tip of the iceberg for a band whose discography glistens with number one singles and albums and who regularly fills arenas and festivals the world over. Few bands manage to fully embed themselves into the spirit of a generation, but this one definitely has done so.

New album Imploding the Mirage marks one of the faster turnaround times between albums for the band, coming less than three years after Wonderful Wonderful. That most recent album saw something of a departure for the band, a more sombre and nuanced record that was widely praised by some, but criticised by others for lacking the trade mark upbeat energy that one associates with The Killers. For those people, Imploding the Mirage will come as a welcome return to form.

Imploding the Mirage sees The Killers back at their barnstorming, high-energy best. A collection of anthems and roof-raisers that draws heavily on the musical influences of Brandon Flowers, particularly the Americana heartland rock of Bruce Springsteen. But make no mistake, this is no nostalgic pastiche, it is The Killers through and through and even where the songs wear their influences proudly they are embellished with the pillowy synths and danceable electronic beats that embody the qualities that make The Killers such an enduring act.

Fans of the big anthemic Killers sound (Sam's Town in particular) will find much to love here.  Produced by Shawn Everett, best known for his work with War on Drugs and Julian Casablancas, and his trademark sound can be heard throughout. Opening track My Own Soul's Warning sounds like The Killers doing War on Drugs doing Bruce Springsteen in all the right ways. Man, it is perfect: soaring guitars and the twinkling synths of clear sky and Brandon Flowers' vocals as powerful and driving as ever. It's a stunner and one of the finest opening tracks to an album in recent memories. Dying Breed is classic Killers, channelling the energy of Run for Cover and Dustland Fairytale and combining that with the dark introspection of Battle Born. Caution attempts much of the same, but in a breezier radio-friendly package that elicits the euphoria of an open road (a treat that seems far away right now).

If I have one minor criticism of this album it is that there isn't the same amount of variety as you might expect from a Killers album. The tempo does soften into more of a country rock mood for Blowback and Running Towards a Place, more successfully in the former, and there are some new age pop leanings in Fire in Bone and Imploding the Mirage. But ultimately most songs lean quite heavily into this Americana/Heartland rock style and they do start to blur together a little on first listen. One notable exception is My God, featuring the excellent Weyes Blood. This is a punchy, defiant foot stomper of a song that taps the familiar Brand Flowers themes of faith and love in a musical style that is more reminiscent of David Bowie at the height of his 1980s Let's Dance era pomp.

This is also quite a short album of just ten songs that feels even shorter from its relative lack of variety. The quality of what is there is consistently high, but if you are already familiar with the lead singles you might come away disappointed not to have found much more here. For this reason it was probably not a wise move to release the album so long after its singles. Nevertheless, a short, tight album like this lends itself well to repeated listens. Imploding the Mirage is definitely an album that grows on you with each play, to the point where you can appreciate each track for its qualities, even where they may tread similar musical or thematic ground.

Imploding the Mirage is easily the strongest album The Killers have put out in over a decade, one that harkens back to their glorious early days in more ways than one and will leave you feeling elated and in a dancing mood. This is a collection of songs that range from good to brilliant and will grow on you with each listen. At its peak, these are songs that rank up there with some of the finest the band have produced, but even its low point is well worth your time. It's just a shame that its relative brevity and lack of variety holds it back from achieving greatness.

Must Listen :
My Own Soul's Warning
Dying Breed
My God

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