ALBUM REVIEW: The Killers – Imploding The Mirage
Emerging out of the bright city lights of Los Angeles, the dusty desert land of Las Vegas and the more hilly mountain terrains of Utah, The Killers have come out of their comfort zone and return in colossal, stadium-filling style, with the release of their new studio album Imploding The Mirage. Despite ongoing line-up setbacks (the band remain in the absence of guitarist Dave Keuning) and album delay knockbacks, The Killers trio Brandon Flowers, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci are throwing caution to the wind with a record that euphorically encapsulates a yearning for newness. With its big name collaborators and a lyrical approach that takes a loving and faith-filled look through the lense of life, Imploding The Mirage also recognises the band’s synth pop DNA sound, dominant on debut Hot Fuss, which creeps back into this new album.
Lead single Caution is a fine example of The Killers calling back to their synthesiser-based beginnings. Boasting bright flecks of post-chorus synthesiser work, somewhat similar to that of Day & Age‘s Spaceman, Caution‘s dreamy atmosphere swiftly intensifies into an infectious, singalong style as frontman Brandon Flowers spontaneously states: “I’m throwin’ caution, what’s it gonna be?/Tonight the winds of change are comin’ over me”. The track concludes with an instrumental feature from former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, the first in a long line of guest spots, with a solo to send the single out in true Bruce Springsteen-meets-U2 heartland rock and roll style. It’s this very moment, mixed with the otherwise Americana inspired anthemic sound, that makes for a standout song amongst Imploding The Mirage’s ten strong tracks.
Fellow singles Fire In Bone, My Own Soul’s Warning and Dying Breed bring their own unique individuality to the full-length. First up, Fire In Bone is a fine example of The Killers tearing up their familiar territory in exchange for something more experimental, as the track boasts this self-assured funk swagger that musically juxtaposes Flowers’ vulnerable “cast out”, “alone” and “unknown” feelings throughout. Next up, My Own Soul’s Warning picks up where Caution left off, beginning with blissful moments of tranquility before the tempo takes off into a glitzy, glam pop floor filler, bursting to the brim with grandiose guitars and shimmering synths. Last in the string of singles comes Dying Breed, complete with catchy melodic hooks, new found romantic lyricism and moreover, Vannucci’s very powerful percussion in the build up to the song’s soaring chorus.
Delving deeper beyond Imploding The Mirage’s surface, songs such as Blowback, Running Towards A Place and Where The Dreams Run Dry prove that The Killers can still deliver vintage deep cuts beyond the big hits. Blowback beckons ambient acoustic guitars in abundance, that culminate to create this warm country glow, alongside a layer of laid back dance rock beats which makes for an easy listening tune. Running Towards A Place channels a New Order-esque 80’s new-wave rhythm, all whilst retaining a daydreaming form of escapism throughout, as the lyrics “And if we’re running towards a place/Where we’ll walk as one/Will the hardness of this life/Be overcome?” makes the listener’s mind wander. Whereas track number nine, Where The Dreams Run Dry, banishes this daydreaming quality and Running Towards A Place presents a darker route, staring right in the face of death when “You start to wonder about the time theft/How much of it you got left,” before The Killers kick into the chorus singing: “When the dreams run dry/I will be where I always was/Standing at your side,” giving us all an optimistic and hope filled lease of life.
Something that sets this album’s tracklisting apart from the five full-lengths before it, is its hotshot collaborations. Calling in producers Jonathan Rado, of Foxygen fame, and Shawn Everett, as well as artists k.d. lang and Weyes Blood, whose collaborative cuts offer a masterclass in faultless vocals. Lightning Fields, featuring k.d. lang, is a key-filled ode to Brandon Flowers’ parents’ unbreakable eternal affection, with Flowers and female lead lang striking up some simply sublime vocals. Elsewhere on the feature front, Weyes Blood weighs in on spiritual song My God, a track that lyrically leans towards Wonderful Wonderful’s religious offering The Calling, where “forgiveness” and “god” gets the pair’s undivided devotion: “Don’t talk to me about forgiveness/My God, just look who’s back in business.”
Closer and title-track Imploding The Mirage is a subtle starter of a song, before building to a brimming, bombastic, rhyming chorus that chimes chronologically of camouflage, collage and mirage. This mixes together in magnificent, magical fashion with Flowers’ chirpy vocals, Stoermer’s quirky bass lines and Vannucci’s short, sharp and snappy drums, similarly capturing the ear’s curiosities for an enjoyable album ender.
Ultimately, Imploding The Mirage is just another move to prove why The Killers remain one of indie rock and rolls biggest 21st century bands. The Nevada natives deliver an album of glistening country rock and scintillating synth pop, side-by-side with lyrics in light, life and in love. It has taken them nearly twenty years to scope out a definitive sound which, two decades down the line, has been found on this full-length.
Standout Tracks: Caution, My Own Soul’s Warning, Dying Breed, Blowback, When The Dreams Run Dry
For Fans Of: Razorlight, The Libertines, The Strokes
Written by: Katie Conway-Flood