Some of the Killers’ best music to date.
Day & Age and Battle Born gave the Killers a couple strong singles, the backbone of their career. But not since Sam’s Town have the Killers released a solid album. Wonderful Wonderful is the band’s fifth LP and the product of a five-year hiatus that saw some members stop playing with the band live at all and Brandon Flowers recording his first solo album. It’s not a comeback album, per se, but an illustration of the best of the Killers and the magic that put them at the top of American pop-rock. Tracks like “Tyson vs. Douglas” and “Out of My Mind” emulate the driving guitars and astral synths that made tracks like “Somebody Told Me” and “When You Were Young” hits. While there’s a focus on the struggles of maintaining their place at the top, there’s equal parts celebration on display, a celebration of a band back together again and intent on writing some of their best music to date.
While Wonderful Wonderful might seem like a none too subtle hint for those curious as to how good of a Killers album this is, the opening title track is a primal, brooding and motivational song. Announcing the beginning of the album with a bull horn, tribalesque percussion backs Flowers’ entreaties “Don’t you listen to the never/ Keep praying for rain” leading up to the chorus of “Keep your ear to the shell/ Stay on the path that leads to the well.” The resolute sentiment transitions well into funky bass-driven lead single “The Man,” which sees the band reflect on the heights that they’ve reached, with cockiness to spare: “They kiss on the ring, I carry the crown…Don’t need no advice, I got a plan/ I know the direction, the lay of the land/ I know the score like the back of my hand.”
But where “The Man” is almost boasting, “Tyson vs. Douglas” sees Flowers ruminating on fallen idols and heartbreaking disappointment. Clearly, even though the bottom isn’t looming for the Killers, it’s a sobering thought: “And I think of me/ Feeling the slip again/ Don’t wanna fall.” The sentiment is repeated on the sleek, ’80s-indebted “Out of My Mind” where Flowers first picks up the bravado again, turning the song into an exercise in name-dropping: “Went back to back with Springsteen/ You turned and rolled your eyes/ So I told you about McCartney/ And that’s a heavy name to drop.” The difference here is that Flowers’ audience on this track is less impressed by his marquee performances. And it’s telling once again that the whole affair opens with the self-aware lines “We’re building up a kingdom/ We hope it never falls.”
But while the Killers hope that their pop-rock star never fades, they end the album on a fairly unsure note. Ballad “Have All the Songs Been Written?” reveals Flowers’ frustration at trying to craft anything, let alone an epic album. With a title taken from an email Flowers sent to Bono, the glimmer of hope in the midst of this existential writer’s block is the phrase “Oh, I just need one to get through to you/ I just need one more.” Who knows how long they’ll clamor for that one more, but on Wonderful Wonderful, the Killers definitely offer up more than one hit in the making.