‘Battle Born’ (Mercury)
It’s been over eight years since The Killers released their debut single. ‘Somebody Told Me’ cracked the Top 40 in March 2004, lighting a spark that rocketed the Las Vegas four-piece to headline act status. Along the way: three albums that suggest Brandon Flowers and his bandmates have never quite worked out whether they’re rock or pop. On their 2008 hit ‘Human’, they seemed just as bafﬂed by the idea that the word “dancer” might have a plural. More recently, they fell down the old band hiatus/solo projects manhole, but they’re back now with album four.
‘Battle Born’ is a proud slogan from the Nevada state ﬂag, which the band also borrowed when naming their Las Vegas studios, where this album was recorded over the course of 14 months with ﬁve different producers.
Inevitably, they all set their dials to “epic”. This is a collection of wilfully anthemic synth-rock songs that pilfers liberally from Springsteen and includes the most shameless stadium chorus of the year, in ‘Here With Me’’s
“Don’t want your picture on my cellphone, I want you here with me.” Sonically, it leans closer to the rock end of
synth-rock, but it’s all Brylcreem-slick and the tunes are huge, so it’s pop too. Who really cares anyway?
Flowers remains a sucker for Americana, so there’s stuff about motels and airﬁelds and something called a “star-spangled heart” – we know what he means, but it still sounds painful. As ever, his lyrics sound better the less you think about them, but you know The Killers are getting it right because most of the time, you don’t need to. Come on, did you ever give that boyfriend-girlfriend stuff in ‘Somebody Told Me’ a second thought?