If Romantic poet William Blake illustrated his take on the famous painting “American Progress,” he likely would’ve come up with something like the album cover from The Killers’ newest record, “Imploding the Mirage” (for those who’ve forgotten from Am Civ, the painting features a massive goddess-like figure striding into the great unknown of the American West). In the case of The Killers, the subject is dual – two airy divinities, a bearded, sage-looking man and a young, joyous woman embracing while careening westward.
In this record, the influences of 80s New Wave and classic Americana pathos are particularly evident.
Frontman Brandon Flowers, who cites influences such as New Order and Bruce Springsteen as equally impactful, is more than just a pretty face for the fantastic sound that is The Killers. His impassioned delivery, impressive range and ear for danceable keyboard tunes have been a touchstone of the band since “Hot Fuss” in 2004.
Combined with Ronnie Vannucci Jr.’s flawless drumming, Mark Stoermer’s reliable bass and notably female new guest voices of k.d. lang and Weyes Blood, this album alone… dare I say it… makes up for 2020.
- “My Own Soul’s Warning:” this song, slated to be the opener for their post-Covid tour, is about listening to one’s conscience according to Flowers. It’s got synth, guitar, energy and brings a new yet familiar sound to The Killers’ oeuvre.
- “Blowback:” featuring the impressive hybrid of synth and classical guitar, overlaid by Tom Petty-esque lyrics, this song is the first of a few on the record to allude to Flowers’ wife, Tana, and her struggles with C-PTSD. A little atypical of their style, but nonetheless a crowd pleaser.
- “Dying Breed:” after the bass lick, synth and percussion warm up, an overwhelming chorus and series of “nuhnuhnuhnuhnuh” make you feel as if you’re in the audience hearing Flowers howl with joy.
- “Caution:” this leading single again nods to Tana Flowers as “the feather-weight queen.” It features lively synth and quarantine lyrics, “If I don’t get out, out of this town / I just might be the one who finally burns it down!” Did I mention that Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac plays the outro?
- “Lighting Fields:” a personal favorite – its heartfelt lyrics are delivered from the perspective of Flowers’ father mourning his late wife. For anyone missing a loved one, its slamming beat and bittersweet message featuring k.d. lang makes you want to “run [my] fastest and stand beside you in the lighting field of love!”
- “Fire in Bone:” it smacks of Talking Heads funk, retells Christ’s parable of the Prodigal Son, and puts your dancing shoes on for you. Divine lyrics+dancefloor glam=heaven. Trust me. I’m an English major.
- “Running Towards a Place:” this one is reminiscent thematically to “Life to Come” from the band’s “Wonderful Wonderful” record of 2017. According to British music journalism website New Musical Express, Flowers emphasized this song as being “very much about two people persevering and trying to become eternal.”
- “My God:” another song replete with religious symbolism, “My God” features Weyes Blood with the anthemic, gorgeous female-driven chorus, “Cause big lovе cannot be understated, / Don’t push, control is ovеrrated / I know that if we stick together, / My God, it’s like the weight has been lifted!”
- “When the Dreams Run Dry:” Flowers’ vocals know no bounds, and the refrain of this song makes this evident. With the theme of aging and the passage of time towards death, the jab of “we’re all gonna die” is appropriate but ironically lighthearted. Flowers and Vanucci joked in a livestream that this would be a good slogan for their merch – as they are, indeed, The Killers.
- “Imploding the Mirage:” Concerning how he and Tana met, Flowers sings, “I was a timid Rockwellian boy,” when he realized – with a nod to one of his influences, The Cars – that his future wife “could be the dangerous type!” It’s the title track, and gives a fittingly optimistic outro to the album with its cheery, “Heeeeeeyaaaaaaayyyyyyo!”
I have listened to this album an ungodly amount of times, and there is a reason for this; this new record is, in the words of University of Dallas senior Courtney Nguyen, “full of life and vitality… nihilism has no say in the matter!”