BY EMILY BLOMQUIST ’18
Bouncing back from a five-year hiatus, The Killers’ fifth album “Wonderful, Wonderful,” released on Sept. 22, 2017, is a fresh disco rock compilation that’s as cocky as it is vulnerable.
Through honest lyrics that bluntly confront complicated, dreary subjects, the band showcases a maturity not present in prior albums. By placing hip funky disco beats over tracks about depression, loss and toxic masculinity, they metaphorically wink at listeners, and ask them to look a bit closer at the world around them. Making like a fine wine, The Killers’ sound is better and more realized than ever.
“How do we make a rock record and make it honest and true and have passion, but make it different?” said drummer Ronnie Vannucci in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, while explaining how the Killers conceived the album.
The album begins with a more somber track, “Wonderful, Wonderful,” which invokes images of motherless children and drought-ridden landscapes to discuss mental health issues. While lyrically impressive, the song could lose the whale-like horn that bellows throughout the track. Exploring similar themes, specifically the disappointment a young boy feels seeing his hero defeated, “Tyson vs. Douglas,” asks us to consider what happens when you lose and “you’re used to winning, how does it feel?” Musically, the song is anything but disappointing, opening with old radio recordings of the famous boxing match. The song takes that energy and builds on its lively excitement. The Killers contrast energetic beats with lyrics that deal with loss and hopelessness.
One such beat, “The Man,” is absurd and flashy in its parody of the modern day macho man. With a swagger in its step and a cocky smirk, the song boasts “I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man.” Undeniably catchy, it criticizes masculinity with a beat you can dance to. In “Run For Cover” the band sets its sights on domestic abuse. Rapid-fire lyrics like “What are you waiting for, a kiss or an apology?/ You think by now you’d have an A in toxicology/ It’s hard to pack the car when all you do is shame us/ It’s even harder when the dirtbag’s famous,” create a sense of urgency in a song that’s sound harkens back to their previous works, carried by edgy guitar jams that weave throughout to the strong beat of the drum. “Run for Cover” is just one of the many tracks on the album that has a distinct Arcade Fire sound. As with many an Arcade Fire song, it’s easy to get carried away with the music and miss the grim lyrical message.
“Wonderful, Wonderful” does bear certain resemblances to earlier albums, most notably “Sam’s Town,” according to frontman Brandon Flowers in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. However, while the album does occasionally remind us of the band’s earlier music, its modern, funky beats and unique tracks like “The Calling,” set it apart. “The Calling” opens with a reading of the Bible’s Book of Matthew by actor Woody Harrelson. With Harrelson’s voice, The Killers question the morality of religion, specifically Christianity. This track is especially interesting when compared to “Life to Come,” which actively addresses an afterlife, suggesting that the band’s criticism of religion does not negate their belief in an afterlife.
Fan responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Tickets sold out within minutes of going on sale in the UK, according to Scottish newspaper the Evening Express. Additionally, Billboard reported that the band scored their first No.1 spot on the Billboard 200 charts since the band’s first album, “Hot Fuse,” debuted 13 years ago. If numbers are anything to go by, The Killers have a bright future.
Only the concluding tracks of the album, “Have all the Songs Been Written,” which whines about feelings of inadequacy and irrelevance, disappoints. By the end of “Wonderful, Wonderful” all doubts regarding The Killers’ comeback should be dispelled. The Killers spend the majority of “Wonderful, Wonderful” proving they’re not inadequate or irrelevant, only to question themselves at the end of the album.
Despite this setback, the album disproves what its final track, “Have all the Song Been Written” feared: quite clearly, all the songs hadn’t been written.