MUSIC FEATURE: Deep Cuts – The Killers (Part 2)
Glamorous indie-rock and rollers The Killers are one of the twenty-first centuries biggest and best American rock bands. Now nearly two decades down the line, the Las Vegas get-up continues to prove their status of dominance to this very day, from the 80’s style indie synth-pop found on debut album Hot Fuss to the matured Americana rock of recent record Imploding The Mirage. In celebration of their sixth studio LP’s release, we’ve taken a deep dive into some of The Killers‘ best non-single tracks as part of our Deep Cuts series – read on to find out Katie Conway-Flood’s second round of picks from the band’s blistering back-catalogue.
Boasting some of the best The Killers singles, including Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, All These Things That I’ve Done and Smile Like You Mean It, debut full-length Hot Fuss finds itself cemented as the band’s best effort to date, ever since its release in 2004. However, with a deep cuts tracklisting, the mega hits can move aside when tracks in the realm of Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll, Midnight Show and moreover On Top take over. Pattering, rave style synths and shimmering tambourines take the track into familiar synth-pop Hot Fuss territory, before Brandon Flowers’ lyrical prowess, Dave Keuning‘s reverbed guitars and Ronnie Vannucci Jr.‘s crashing drums play out throughout the track’s remainder.
Bling (Confession Of A King)
Second album Sam’s Town transported these Las Vegas natives from an indie breakout band to fully fledged heartland rocker fashionistas, ready to take the music business by storm. Riding high off the back off one of the decade’s biggest releases, Sam’s Town was a tough act to follow in the footsteps of Fuss, but proved to be an successful and abrupt stylistic shift for the band, one that hit the jackpot as far as sophomore albums go. Aside from the studio LP’s list of singles, When You Were Young, Bones, Read My Mind and For Reasons Unknown, numbers This River Is Wild, title-track Sam’s Town and Bling (Confession Of A King) rival those tracks with renowned status. Bling beckons cold pianos and Flowers belting out lyrics that struggle to cope with the feeling of failure, “When I offer you survival/You say it’s hard enough to live,” in stunning solo style. The song soon gets its warm glow going with parading percussion, racing bass and guitars, and self-assured singing courtesy of the quartet.
Goodnight, Travel Well
From the tumbleweed desert western world of Sam’s Town to the cosmic intergalactic universe of Day & Age, The Killers’ third full-length playfully frolics around with more pop leaning instrumentation that sounds like they are sent in from outer space, whilst its accompanying lyrics are an exploration into the loss of human life. Human, Spaceman, The World We Live In and A Dustland Fairytale all fall into this glistening new wave persona, in the same sound palette as that of Duran Duran and The Pet Shop Boys, and album closer Goodnight, Travel Well is no exception. A mammoth seven-minute conclusion that embodies the reflection and realisation of the humans we hold close to our hearts, Goodnight, Travel Well is a direct tribute to both guitarist Keuning and frontman Flowers’ mothers – a moving send off into an otherworldly dimension unknown to life of planet earth.
Flesh And Bone
Back to begin the Battle Born–era in 2012 after an extended hiatus, The Killers once again found a new type of sound that shifted away from Hot Fuss‘ indie synth-pop, Sam’s Town‘s heartland rock, and Day & Age‘s new wave styles, in favour of mainstream alternative rock. Runaways, the lead single from the fourth studio record, marked the reunion for The Killers to kickstart their destiny into yet another number one album cycle, one that also witnessed opening track Flesh And Bone, as well as The Way It Was, A Matter Of Time, The Rising Tide and Prize Fighter all finding themselves on the same pedestal as worthy singles. Metronome type ticking and a layer of accumulated synthesisers introduce Flesh And Bone, before Flowers’ crisp and clean vocals burst onto the scene, singing “Somewhere outside that finish line/I square up and break through the chains/And I hit like a raging bull/Anointed by the blood, I take the reins/Cut from the cloth of a flag that bears the name of “Battle Born”/They’ll call me the contender/They’ll listen for the bell/With my face flashing crimson from the fires of hell,” suggesting Flowers is squaring up, ready to fight and battle born.
From what it means to be a man in this modern day to deeply traumatic struggles, fifth album Wonderful Wonderful witnesses some of Flowers’ most straight up lyricism throughout its forty-three minute duration, something not seen in such heavy abundance on previous albums. Upbeat lead single The Man and third piano-driven single Rut represent these topics to a tee, with the first openly discussing youthful regrets, while the latter explores feelings of mental loss. Whereas as a standalone, deep cut title-track Wonderful Wonderful is the one that encapsulates every element of the full-length’s themes, even down to referencing the shell depiction on the album’s artwork. The frontman honestly lets both his personal and immediate family’s guard down, emotionally inspired by his wife Tana’s long term struggles with PTSD in the melancholic and moody title-track.
When The Dreams Run Dry
Despite initial delays and ongoing missing members, the sixth studio album and latest LP by the American rock band, Imploding The Mirage, is just another step in the right direction, and proves why The Killers remain a force to be reckoned with. Both harking back to the band’s synth style identified on earlier work in Hot Fuss and transitioning effortlessly into more mature terrain, Imploding plays host to a whole load of atmospheric, anthemic singles such as Caution and My Own Soul’s Warning, alongside the funky Fire In Bone and soaring song Dying Breed. Amongst the many stellar non-singles lies the likes of easy listening dance rock tune Blowback, as well as When The Dreams Run Dry, a track that takes ear splitting synths and a sense of walking through the wonders of life, accompanied to stare death right in the face at the very end. The track amalgamates sounds of bass, drums, guitars and keyboard synths with stylistic influences of dance, indie, new wave and rock and roll, paired with resonant and memorable lyrics to be performed in festival and stadium size proportions – something that The Killers do best. These deep cuts are a fine example of the band performing at their very best beyond their smash hits.