If there’s one thing that comebacks usually prove, it’s that the band should have stayed where they were. Leading back to The Killers’ 2008 album, Day & Age, the band had released an album that was their worst reviewed yet. Couple this with the fact that some in the band were tired of the constant touring and wanted to take a break (It seems easy to narrow down just who it was who wanted to take a break, because 3 of the 4 members made solo albums in-between) it seemed like The Killers were running out of steam. They had a lot to live up to on this comeback album, but thankfully they deliver something that boasts everything they have tackled up to this point, and wrapped it all in a focused and consistently compelling 4th album.
Back in 2010, when lead singer Brandon Flowers released his debut solo album, Flamingo, he said that he saved a gem for the next Killers record. I assume the gem is none other than the lead single, “Runaways”. This roots rock tinged Americana track has much in common with some of the tracks from Flamingo, but it is taken to the next level with the full band treatment. The song has a simply MASSIVE chorus and lyrics that are so emotional that it is not a stretch at all to say that this is one of the best singles The Killers have ever released.
If there’s one thing that “Runaways” foreshadowed from Battle Born, it’s that we could expect songs so big that they could rattle a skyscraper. Opener “Flesh and Bone” starts off with a mellow synth riff that suddenly erupts into a call-to-arms assault on all those standing in their way. “What are you made of?” sings Brandon Flowers through soaring vocals. If there is one thing that has consistently improved throughout this band’s career, it is the vocals of Brandon Flowers. He had taken singing lessons prior to recording this album, and it shows, because he has never sounded better.
Though this album is focused, that does not mean that it is without its faults. In the process of creating a cohesive album, some of the songs don’t stray far away enough to truly stand out. This happens mainly in the mid-section of the album, where most of the huge instrumentation has taken a back seat to more standard pop rock songs. “Deadlines and Commitments” is a mid-tempo rocker that doesn’t really accomplish much, and “Heart of a Girl” is an overly cheesy song that drains much of the energy the album had upheld to that point.
Regardless of a couple missteps along the way, The Killers close Battle Born in a suitably epic fashion. The closer is the title track, and it is easily the best closer The Killers have recorded yet. As “Flesh and Bone” was a rousing call-to arms, “Battle Born” is the call to keep on going, to never give up the good fight. “And when they knock you down / you’re gonna get back on your feet.” Huge Guitars and synths collide to create an outro that is simply out of this world. The final track on a Killers album is usually one of the weaker ones, but this albums closer is quite possibly the best song on the LP.
By this point, The Killers are a band that many hate, simply because they are not edgy and sing about things that maybe you would actually like to achieve in life. Brandon Flowers is a Mormon, which is a faith that is viciously attacked and constantly blown out of proportion today. Listening to Brandon Flowers, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a person who is completely empowered by his faith, and it has given him a purpose and a path that he is absolutely thrilled to follow. When a person this driven and sincere makes music, I find it impossible not to be swept up in it. With The Killers he has created an album whose core is all about being still, staying strong, and not going down without a fight. Battle Born is an emotional roller coaster from start to finish, and returns the band to their former glory. I present to you The Killers; back with a bang.
Release Date: September 17, 2012
Genres: Alternative Rock, Heartland Rock, New Wave