What happened to The Killers
? Once upon a time, the Vegas outfit gave us Hot Fuss
, a thrilling, if not very original album, that still recalled the best of its inspirations, from Duran Duran
to Joy Division
. But with the exception of the lunkheaded yet enjoyable Sam's Town
, that band hasn't been around in a long time.
I suppose I should be grateful that their fourth album Battle Born
displays a greater measure of passion than singer Brandon Flowers
' limp solo effort, Flamingo
. And it isn't as though The Killers don't show ambition this time around. The problem is that the ambition is to be yet another U2
clone, trading hurricane-heavy dance rock for soaring vocals and big hooks. Lead single "Runaways" seems ready for easy listening radio already; the closing title track is predictably epic, and yet simultaneously leaden. It seems the band has eschewed what made them pretty awesome in the first place in order to give Flowers a chance to show off his vocal chops. The problem there is that he's a limited singer, whose wailing isn't as impressive as he thinks it is.
Battle Born isn't always a slog. The album actually starts off with the promising, muscular "Flesh and Bone," powering its way through the first four minutes before "Runaways" saps much of that electricity. "The Way It Was" is about as good as anything from Day & Age
, and "Here With Me" is one of a few songs that sees The Killers tackling country, with surprisingly listenable results.
Perhaps it's unfair of me to compare today's Killers to the hungry, aggressive band that put out Hot Fuss
. It's admirable that the band has tried to drift out of its original lane. Yet for all their arena rock pretensions, do they have to be so boring? But, apparently the people of Philadelphia disagree, as they just bought up over 8000 tickets for The Killers' December 13th show at The Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden.