Wonderful Wonderful, The Killers fifth studio album, again sees the band topping the UK
album chart, following the success of Battle
The Killers are undoubtedly currently one of the biggest bands in the world. And befitting their status, they are surrounded by rock royalty on the new album. U2 singer Bono recommended Jacknife Lee, (R.E.M., Bloc Party, U2) the album’s producer, to them, and suggested the title to the track ‘Have all the songs been written’. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits then stepped in to add his sparkle of guitar magic to the same song. While Brian Eno features on ‘Some Kind of Love’.
Brandon Flowers (vocals, keyboards) Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. (drums), Mark Stoermer (Fender precision bass) and Dave Keuning (lead guitar, with his inseparable Gibson Explorer) comprise the Killers, but it is clear that Flowers is the driving force behind the distinctive lyrics. Given his back catalogue includes songs with idiosyncratic stories like ‘All these things that I’ve done’ and ‘Bones’ Flowers – not to mention his followers – must have wondered where his mind would be heading next.
The answer turns out to be his experience of what it means to be a man."In your head it's about being tough and bringing home the bacon, but what I've come to find is it's really more about empathy and compassion," he told Entertainment Weekly.
Appropriately the first released single from the album is entitled ‘The man’. The macho-style video is both uplifting and ridiculous at the same time, reminding this reviewer of John Travolta strutting his stuff to the Bee Gees ‘Saturday night fever’, although it reportedly actually sprang out of a sample of the 1975 Kool & The Gang song "Spirit of the Boogie". It is absurdly over the top, to the point of being funny. As Vannucci himself admits, when he says it is "largely about how when we were younger we felt invincible. What it meant to be a 'man' in your 20's. Sort of your chest out, the breadwinner, nothing could stop you. It's sort of tongue-and-cheeking that, that is not really the point of being a man at all.”
From there, it is a small step to "Tyson vs. Douglas", which was inspired by the moment that underdog Buster Douglas stunningly knocked out the previously unbeaten Mike Tyson in a 1990 bout. The shock of seeing Tyson hit the deck, and then stagger around like a teen who has just snorted a pot of Evo-stik, left a mark on Flowers about how a sudden loss of power can affect a man. These lyrics are my “most personal and bare", Flowers told NME, "I'm looking in the mirror on this record.”
And Flowers could hardly allow listeners in closer than when he talks about his wife’s problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and dark thoughts - and how he seeks to cope with it - on “Some Kind of Love.” “You got the faith of a child before the world gets in” he sings about his wife, who reportedly cried when she heard it. But that is just the start, because Flowers seems to have planned to have us all crying when he enlisted his three young sons to sing the final refrain on the song: “Can’t do this alone, we need you at home.”
Do we want it this raw? For Flowers, it seems, there is no choice. He risks everything in his search for sincerity and artistic authenticity, and basically says to his audience: ‘either like it or lump it’.
Luckily for Flowers, the Killers, and their legion of fans there is only one answer, and it is well beyond doubt: ‘We love it - keep it coming!’