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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Killers - Battle Born

It’s been a long time since The Killers have come out with a studio album. Four years to be exact. Their last album, Day & Age, was a relative commercial success, but stylistically it just wasn’t up to par like that of Hot Fuss or Sam’s Town.  Those are two of the better alt rock albums of the decade, so you can only blame yourself for being so damn good….sorry, Brandon and gang. Upon finding out that a new album was in the works, it only seemed right that we cover it.  Furthermore, 2012 looks to be the year for Vegas-based bands, begging for a reassessment of the city motto: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” So get out your glow sticks and your twenty dollar priced pina colada cups that you brought home from roaming the strip late at night  and check out our review of The Killers’ fourth full-length studio album, Battle Born.
            The first single, off of Battle Born, “Run Aways,” is one of those familiar sounding songs that you see yourself having listened to while watching Risky Business or some other iconic 80s Tom Cruise movie. The instrumentation pays a certain homage to that of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, respectively. As much as it sounds reminiscent of such rockers, there is a reaffirmation that Flowers’s writing and melodies shine through. It’s a song with lyrics that resonate, something that Flowers has always had an apparent talent for. In the first verse, we see that The Killers are back to their old ways. Flowers writes, “Blonde hair blowing in the summer wind/A blue eyed girl playing in the sand/ I’ve been on the trail for a little while/But that was the night she broke down and held my hand.” From reading this verse, the words hold such weight that they could be taken as a stanza from a poet laureate of sorts. There is no sacrifice in quality here.
            In addition to this, the piano and acoustic guitar strumming, along with subtle sounding drums, give off this Tom Petty-esque feeling as noted before. By the time the chorus hits, however, a drowning drumbeat builds up the anticipation, followed by the heavy down strokes of from an electric (guitar).  Simply put, it is a great choice for their first single.

“Here With Me” is another one of those special gems. It’s a beautiful track that continues to give off this 80s type sound with rich guitar textures and Flowers ‘s distinct voice. It’s a slower type rock love song that you would see Springsteen singing if it was 30 years earlier. It’s nice to see the contemporary lyrics in it though: “I don’t want to see your pictures in my cellphone/I want you hear with me, don’t need those memories in my head/No I want you hear with me.” It’s a song, which, like rest of the album, is a melting pot of sorts in terms of inspirational direction, garnering influences from the old school Rock heavy hitters.  
The track that epitomizes a decadent sense of reconstituting both past and present sound, however, is “Heart of A Girl.“ It’s one of those songs that you listen to for the first time and then you hit the back button right after it’s over.  It is as if with this song, we are slipping further away from the present in a way. A very “Sweet Jane” vibe is felt from the very get-go, making any Velvet Underground fan, shed a single metaphorical tear. The guitar tone sounds just as it did forty years ago. A subtle, groovy bass line mixed with higher fretted notes give it that rich, sweet twang. It’s a happy sounding song, yet lyrically melancholic. This makes it all the more beautiful, however. Flowers writes:

I can see the time dripping down the clock,
We’ve been trying to hear that ancient refrain,
It’s the one that knows us when our heads are down,
And reminds us of the place,
From where we came.
Where we came.
Daddy daddy daddy,
All my life, I’ve been trying to find my place in this world.
Baby, baby, babe, I’ve got all night,
To listen to the heart of a girl.”

The consolence of a father’s voice in a world teeming with questions of uncertainty and do I or do I not belong here, help give claim to this notion that we are indeed not alone. These are not just words coming from a rock star, but words from a man who is writing something based closely to his own heart, even if it’s not that of a girl’s.  By the end of the song The Killers bring us back to their more contemporary sound that got them first noticed.
All in all, The Killers are not your average Rock band. They might not be your exact cup of tea even. They are, however, musical geniuses that everyone should have some form of respect for. Flowers is one of those songwriters that we should cherish, especially in a world where even bands are starting to not write their own stuff. Battle Born is an organic album that begs eager ears, vying for something real, to listen to. Like our Vegas brethren, keep calm and rock on. Until then Druggernauts!

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