Album Review: The Killers – ‘Wonderful Wonderful’
Back in the Noughties, it was no exaggeration that The Killers were one of the biggest bands walking the planet. Their infectious enthusiasm and charm was reflected in many of the monster singles they released that still live on today.
The band had a solid run throughout the entire last decade, with their first three records Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town and Day & Age well received critically and commercially. However, in 2012 the band dropped their fourth record, Battle Born.
This effort did have some solid moments, such as the outstanding lead single Runaways and other tracks like Deadlines & Commitments, Miss Atomic Bomb and Flesh and Bone. But overall, the record was a bit of a dud, with many tracks lacking the charm and staying power that Mr. Brightside or Somebody Told Me had.
Frontman Brandon Flowers made it no secret that he felt the band missed an opportunity with that record, and seemed determined to deliver a follow-up for fans to be proud of. It was an effort that, according to Flowers, did not come easy. But, Wonderful Wonderful comes at an interesting time musically.
Hearing this album for the first time was like being reacquainted with an old friend, whose lively presence made you realise how much you missed them.
Rock music has really taken a back seat this decade, as genres like Pop and Hip Hop have started to lead the way commercially. As a result, many rock bands have sought inspiration in the classic sounds of eras gone by, to varying degrees of success. This record follows that trend and, thankfully, is an extremely welcome return to form for The Killers.
Wonderful Wonderful is bombastic and enthusiastic, but with the undeniable charm of their first three records. Hearing this album for the first time was like being reacquainted with an old friend, whose lively presence made you realise how much you missed them.
However, Flowers and company haven’t recycled the sound of the band all over again. Pulling from 80’s disco rock, post-punk, heartland rock and new wave genres, they deliver a livelier, denser record that has plenty of swagger. The result is an experience that, unlike it’s predecessor, stays with you.
The first big highlight is the title track that kicks off the album. Bass and drums are very much a focal point to the sound of this record, and it’s a credit to bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. that so many of these tracks feel like they have a huge weight to them.
Rut is a personal favourite that builds slowly in its sound, and reaches a grandiose climax worthy of previous Killer entries. Run for Cover and Tyson vs Douglas are also notable mid-album highlights, with a great up-beat tempo that perks up the album as a whole.
However, the band does save the best for last with its final two tracks. The Calling is easily the most cinematic of all the songs, with an almost blues-infused guitar that came straight out of a western, while the closing track, Have All the Songs Been Written?, is in a gentler style, seemingly inspired by the quiet power of Dire Straits (unsurprising, considering Mark Knopfler has guitar credits on this track).
But, this track really brings out the best lyrical abilities of Flowers. It feels like there’s a story of struggle behind the track, but also feels like a question Flowers asks as to whether the Killers themselves have run their course. The answer is, hopefully, a resounding no.
If there’s any complaint to the record, it is that, like previous Killer records, it’s attention to excessiveness really can make some tracks seem a bit overblown, such as a with lead single The Man. Also, despite brilliant moments of guitar playing on Some Kind of Love and The Calling, it feels overall like Dave Keuning has taken a back seat compared to other members, as tracks like Life to Come could’ve used a bit more his trademark guitar work.
Yes, it’s over-the-top, like many Killers records. But this record oozes with an infectious charm that is hard not to get swept along in. Wonderful Wonderful sees a wiser band push themselves sonically and musically. The result? Their best record in over a decade.