on September 23, 2012
...and just accept that The Killers change their sound drastically album to album.
Personally I love their old albums and although Battle Born is really, really different I like it a lot as well.
Brandon Flower's voice is majestic as ever and I dig the new instrumental sounds too.
Disclaimer: This is my favorite band of all time so please, take everything I say with a grain of salt. That said, I admit that though eventually I was able to find enjoyment from DAY & AGE I can understand why it got such criticism as it did. I love HOT FUSS but I consider SAM'S TOWN to be the essential album of The Killers. I have good news. Though BATTLE BORN may not be as good as SAM'S TOWN, it is definitely a worthy sequel. It's great to have the band back.
BATTLE BORN is a "dustland fairytale" to the core. This is a complete and total "blue jean serenade" of layered, polished, and refined music. The production value is excellent but it is important to remember that The Killers can actually perform this live. This isn't just studio magic. This band is a premium act.
BATTLE BORN is much more SAM'S TOWN than it is DAY & AGE but there is still some of that disco-glam-dance influence to be found. BATTLE BORN is primarily heartland rock, infused with a dose of country (a la Brandon's solo album FLAMINGO). It's an interesting blend and it's not for everyone. I know there are those who lament the band's departure from HOT FUSS but I personally appreciate the dynamic range of The Killers. I'm not going to discuss every song for once, just my absolute favorites. But enough introduction, on to the music!
"Flesh and Bone" - At the moment this is my favorite track on BATTLE BORN. This is a rousing battle hymn if I've ever heard one. Brandon on synth and Dave on guitar are the driving force of the song but it is the lyrics that really give this song punch. I'd bet money that this is the next single released from the album.
"Runaways" - This will always hold a special place in my heart as the first new song of the reunited Killers. From Ronnie's galloping percussion to the soaring vocals and reverberating guitar this track screams arena rock. This is a BIG song that is barely contained by the limitations of digital recording.
"Matter of Time" - The way this track starts reminds me of HOT FUSS, with the heavier pace and the background vocals ("whoooa-ooo-oooo"). It's has a distinct "Somebody Told Me" flavor to it, with a hint of SAM'S TOWN. As another great arena rock song this will be fun to sing along to live.
"Deadlines and Commitments" - I wasn't really digging this song at first. Like, at all. After listening to it a couple times it has really grown on me. At various times of the day I found myself singing, "If you should fall upon hard times..." An unexpected hit this one.
"Miss Atomic Bomb" - I liked this one. And then I really listened to it. And then I fell in love. This is decent...until you realize that it is the prequel to "Mr. Brightside" and it totally blows your mind. This probably has some of the best lyrics of the entire album and in true Killers fashion it tells a beautiful, sad story. It sort of reminds me of "Dustland Fairytale" one of my all time favorites.
`The Rising Tide" - There is some awkward lyrical delivery on this track, the first line for instance, "the streets of persuasion, are plated with gold, your heart's in the right place but you traveled down the wrong road..." But once you get past some of the unwieldly lines (think "Swallow It" from FLAMINGO) it really is a good song. Plus there is a wicked sweet guitar riff courtesy of Dave near the end.
"From Here On Out" - This isn't heartland rock so much as it is country but you know what? I can dig it. This is also reminiscent of Brandon's solo album, kinda makes you want to throw on some cowboy boots and square dance.
"Battle Born" - Here it is, the theme song of the album. It opens with ascending keyboard and guitar. This track is certainly an inspirational anthem. I love the guitar and drums but best of all is the vocals as Brandon reminds us all, we are battle born.
Overall BATTLE BORN is a great album, just the return I have been waiting four years for. The Killers are back and in fine form. There are tracks that don't carry the same youthful enthusiasm and impressive scope that I so admire ("The Way it Was" and "Here With Me") and I can't stand "Heart of a Girl" but all in all this is a Grade A album. I highly recommend obtaining the two bonus tracks, "Carry Me Home" and especially "Prize Fighter." If you are among The Victims rest easy, the band is back together and making music just as memorable as ever.
on October 10, 2012
Flowers continues his trend as the Springsteen of the Desert. Probably the most cohesive entry since Sam's Town, it just good old fashion American Rock and Roll. Its influences from classic rock are strong, and each song offers something worth appreciating.
Before this, Sam's Town was my favorite Killers album, but Battle Born quickly took its place.
Noteworthy: after hearing where the Killers landed after some time going solo, its clear that Brandon Flowers found a lot of his stride in his solo album. This album is clearly a launching point from what was learned during that time. You can easily add Flamingo into the catalog as a halfway point between Day & Age and Battle Born.
If you're hating on Killers at this point, then you probably never liked the Killers; you liked Hot Fuss.
on September 21, 2012
This album left me...frustrated. And confused. And disappointed.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting here. I think that my overall opinion of the entire album can be summarized by my reaction upon listening to "Runaways" for the first time: it sets itself up to be great but doesn't carry through. Catchy openings, good sounds, but...nothing really *happens*. The songs either build and build to a disappointing (or absent) crescendo or they drone on and on. They lack depth of sound, the lyrics are weak (come ON..."don't want your picture/ on my cellphone?!?!?!), and it just....falls flat.
I'm a total sucker for soaring, grandiose, borderline overly-soundscaped and over-the-top melodies (a la U2), but something doesn't mesh here...Flowers' voice just doesn't mesh with the sound in a lot of cases, and the result of the clash are songs that tend to drone and drone. I just finished listening to Sam's Town and Hot Fuss for comparison, and Flowers really does have an incredible voice. However, it needs a certain raw intensity in terms of instrumental accompaniment that wasn't present in Battle Born. I'm all for bands experimenting and I think that The Killers have the potential to take this new sound somewhere; I just hope that The Killers don't settle here. This isn't the right place for them.
I wish I could put my finger exactly on what is wrong with this album, but I can't. It just feels a bit empty and leaves me dissatisfied. Hopefully The Killers can use it as a good jumping-off point for future albums. There is potential here, but this album in and of itself is simply not strong.
on October 17, 2012
Mature. Complex. Sophisticated. Intense. Provocative. Insightful.
"What are you made of...?"
That's the not-so-rhetorical question posed in this sweeping epic's opening track - to which the deceptively obvious answer is "Flesh and Bone." But the way Brendan Flowers delivers the line, you just know he means sooooo much more than that. Spirit and soul render us more than the sum of our parts, the depths of which are plumbed through these twelve burning, yearning tracks. Part description, part prescription, he's pushing himself outside well-worn comfort zones. Isn't that the hallmark of every great artist?
Back to "Flesh and Bone": this track grabs you by the collar and never lets go, delivering more intensity, variety, and vocal/lyrical invention than you'll ever find in four minutes and one second. It ends too soon -- and that's precisely the point.
By way of background, I was waaaaay late jumping on The Killers bandwagon - you might even say I deliberately avoided/ignored all the fuss about Hot Fuss. It was just too implausible to fathom that any band could improve on the New Wave canon enshrined by musical deities like Depeche Mode and New Order. Five years went by after the Hot Fuss release and I couldn't even glimpse it in the rearview mirror. But then one day I was burning down the freeway and burning up over one thing or another and "Mr. Brightside" came on the radio and, y'know, I starting throwing elbows and knees to make myself some room and hauled my carcass up on The Killers bandwagon.
It's been a nice ride up here, I must say. Although I only came away with two keepers from Sam's Town ("When You Were Young" and "Read My Mind," like, duh!), Day & Age was a pretty strong (and frequent repeat) play end-to-end. Still reach for "Human" when I need a lift.
Along comes "Battle Born" just a few days before my 42nd birthday, and what better remedy to make 42 feel more like 22? I don't get the scorn heaped on this ambitious ensemble from the nosebleed seats. I don't see (er, hear) it as much of a departure from Hot Fuss and the rest of the corpus. Sure, it's a bit more glimmery and shimmery, a bit more reminiscent of power pop acts like Ric Ocasek & The Cars ("The Way It Was"), with a dash of the power chord showmanship pioneered by Rush (especially in the album-closing "Battle Born," which rivals any anthem by The Alarm, Big Country, and the aforementioned Rush). But not every track is a pulse-pounding wall-of-sound -- some are surprinsingly subtle, so there's enough variety on display here to make your ears feel like they've travelled many, many miles. Brendan Flowers strikes me as an old soul with a searching perspective and a yearning in his heart - for living life to its fullest, novel experience, star-gazing wonder, understanding, and naturally, love. He savors the journey while aching for the destination.
"Runaways" - the obvious first single - churns along with half-fulfilled promises of freedom. "Deadlines and Commitments" delivers a compelling (and refreshingly platonic) "I'm-in-your-corner-no-matter-what" theme. I'll let you discover the rest of these gems on your own.
So ask yourself:
"What are you made of...?"
on January 12, 2013
My music tastes are very eclectic, with favorite bands ranging from Pink Floyd, Tony Carey (& Planet P) to Split Enz/Tim Finn et al. and a number of other alternative Australian acts from the mid 80's to the 90's. I bought this for my daughter that is in High School when it was on sale over the Christmas Break. I'd heard one or two songs on the radio and liked them, but not any more or less than any of the other alternative rock bands that I hear on the radio but no longer pursue in terms of buying albums. This album has really grown on me and is lyrically rich. The songs have depth and personal meaning on a variety of levels that I appreciate more and more with each listening--enough so that I've looked up the lyrics to read which is something I only do for things I really like. I can't place or rate the album versus other Killer Albums since this is my introduction to the band, but as someone who pays attention to lyrics, this album speaks to me and has made its way to my permanent play list.
on September 19, 2012
I neither love it or hate is - it's OK. I'm a long-time fan of the band, but can't say that this album made as a strong first impression as Sam's Town (my favourite) or Hot Fuss - no immediate hits or gems. It falls a bit flat - too ballady and melancholic, not enough strong drums and guitars, average and at times over-crowded wordy lyrics, and some awkward vocal delivery on a few tracks. To me this feels more like Brandon Flowers follow-up to his Flamingo solo album than The Killers - I see someone else shares this view. Shame. Regardless, I find myself listening to it when I need something light and mellow (eg, when I can't fall asleep) as most of the tracks don't make me want to jump or dance like most of the tracks on the other albums did. And being a fan, I've got tickets to three shows already - more may be on the way.
on October 17, 2012
The Killers go retro, Springsteen vibe awesomeness on Battleborn! They kind of combined all of the sounds from previous records, to deliver a surprisingly fresh sound, topped off with Brandon's crisp tenor vocal, you can't go wrong. Worth every penny!
on October 19, 2012
It seems that the reviewers of this album either love it or hate it. What's new? I will say that songs 1-7 are as strong as anything in their catalog. With each Killers LP, I always have a core of favorite tracks, and the rest of the music slowly grows on me. This album is no different in that regard. My wife [not a die-hard Killers fan like myself] is of the opinion that "Runaways" is the best track the Killers have ever done, period. That debate is for a different forum. However, I believe it speaks volumes that the Killers are still cranking out fresh music that, while remaining true to their sound, continues to evolve and mature, same as the members of the band. (Remember-they are people just like everyone else!) This is a solid album. If you are looking for a sample to begin with, download "Flesh and Bone," "Runaways," "A Matter of Time," and "Miss Atomic Bomb."
on October 22, 2015
Much in the same way that their third album, "Day & Age" echoed the style of their debut, "Hot Fuss," the fourth offering from The Killers, "Battle Born" at times feels cut from the same cloth as their second album, "Sam's Town." Doubling down on the Springsteen influence that made "Sam's Town" such a divisive record almost a decade ago, The Killer ensure another album that will no doubt leave a lasting impression on its audience -- for better or worse.
While originally thought to be tongue-in-cheek, it appears that frontman Brandon Flowers' is all too sincere in his unabashed patriotism and somewhat corny romantic ideals. "Battle Born" is perhaps a little too over-stuffed with heartfelt ballads about young love and blue-collar workers, almost to the point of self-parody. But when he delivers such hammy sentiments with such sincerity, it's hard not to be sold. So much so, that when he laments that he "don't want your picture/on my cellphone/I want you here/with me" on "Here With Me," it's all to easy to be sucked into the sappiness like quicksand.
Production-wise, "Battle Born" eschews a lot of what made The Killers so interesting way back when. Gone are the pulsating bass-lines from Mark Stoermer and gone are the sickly infectious hooks spewed forth by Flowers. In exchange, we get full-blown stadium rockers like the title-track and the first single, "Runaways." These moments are all fine and good, but it can't help but feel like the sacrifice didn't pay off. "Flesh and Bone" comes close, but The Killers from 2004 are all but absent, take that whichever way you may.
While not a complete career killer, "Battle Born" and its luke-warm response has no doubt put the band on ice for the time-being. It's an album that will probably find more of an audience in later years as it's re-evaluated and removed from the context in which it was released. While it doesn't always fire on all cylinders or quite reach the stars it aims for, it's a noble effort from a band that becomes exceedingly more polarizing with each release.