On September 17, The Killers release their fourth studio album. ‘Battle Born’ is both the name of the band’s own studio and a nickname for their home state of Nevada. Brandon Flowers told NME:
I feel like people are going to be able to relate to and understand these songs. Pound for pound, this is our strongest record, and I’m really excited about it.
Will there be a ‘Somebody Told Me’ or ‘Mr Brightside’ on ‘Battle Born’? Here’s our track-by-track guide.
‘Flesh & Bone’
‘Battle Born’ starts with futuristic beeps and synths. First thought: will this be a dystopian nightmare? “I’ve gone through life white-knuckling the moments that left me behind” says Brandon Flowers, in typically strident vocal form. It’s a self-help anthem with a chorus that bursts with typical melodic energy in the ‘Human’ vein, before a solid bridge.
The second track is a little like Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin” AND ‘American Pie’ to start off but then we launch into a classic Killers chorus. It’s about family but there’s a dark undertone as Flowers warns he’s apt to “slip”. “Let’s take a chance baby, we can’t lose”. We’ll soon find out.
Here we have the album’s first ballad. It’s a piano-based, 80s boomer about the travails of love in the 21st century world. “Don’t want your picture on my cellphone”, croons Flowers looking back nostalgically to the summer and better days. He is in quite the contemplative mood so far.
‘Matter Of Time Revised ‘
Again we have the 80s, power ballad theme. Has our Brandon been plundering his Bonnie Tyler records? “You’re looking for a way out – I can feel it – show me where it hurts maybe I can cure it”, says Doctor Strangelove. Backing vocals play a central part and props to the tambourine for a delightful supporting role.
Did The Killers ever write soap opera theme tunes? Because I swear ‘Deadlines and Commitments’ sounds like the opening to Sunset Beach. The lyrics are basically a reaffirmation that Brandon is a good bloke and we can go over to his house if things get hard. Swell.
Brandon wants tenderness and a touch from ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’. They are making out to the radio. I doubt it’s Rinse FM. The riff from ‘Mr Brightside’ turns up at one point, suggesting brighter days.
Definitely the best track on the album so far. It’s all diminished tones, a big bowl of synths and a beat you could definitely dance to after a few shandies. It’s even got some “Hallelujahs” which is never a bad thing.
Another soft ballad. It has some pleasing harmonies and pizzicato synths. “Daddy, daddy, daddy, for all of my life, I’ve been trying to find my place in the world.” Again with the introspection.
This one could be the sing-a-long track of the album but I’m afraid it’s a rather boring 80s pastiche again.
The one thing I will say for Brandon Flowers is that he does have a charming voice and a good range. ‘Be Still’, another ballad, showcases this.
Album closer ‘Battle Born’ finishes the album as it began: earnest, emotive and rousing. It has a lovely verse and I’m quite tempted to learn the lyrics and sing it in front of my mirror with a hairbrush for a microphone. I think I’ll just get out my old Bonnie Tyler records.