"Battle Born" is less than mediocre
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 23:09
Though contemporary American music is increasingly composed small-operation genres like hipster-hop and dubstep, the Las Vegas-based band The Killers is determined to prove themselves a true stadium rock band. Fresh off of frontman Brandon Flowers’ solo Flamingo career, the Killers are back with Battle Born. Pieces of each Sam’s Town, Hot Fuss, and Day & Age are all present in Battle Born, but what is most interesting is the very Springsteen-esque sound, amusingly complimented by Flowers’ fake British accent. If their previous work were attempts at a European sound, their latest release is easily their most American sounding.
The first single, “Runaway”, is reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem except with synthesizers; it is the closest that the Killers have come to a country sound, but it is sufficiently dance-y so as to not alienate their longtime fans. Despite this, Battle Born lacks a single song quite as good as “Mr. Brightside” or “Tranquilizer”. Similarly, “Prize Fighter” has a twang to it – clearly the Killers’ attempt to realign themselves with American audiences – and, surprisingly, it is probably the best song on the release. Inspirational and energetic, Flowers’ belting promise to “be her prize fighter” and to chase what he desires make for a track very unlike anything the group has ever put out.
“Here With Me”, “The Way it Is” and “A Matter of Time”, among other tracks, seem like the build-up; the in-between slow songs in a long set of anthem rock. Too many tracks on the album leave the listener waiting for the explosive climax which never happens. A ballad now and again? Try two-thirds of the record. It’s a only “A Matter of Time” until you’ll want to stop listening to this album.
Flowers could easily be mistaken for a 2012 presidential candidate, what with his almost preachy theme of family and parenthood that pervades the album. It appears that he is overextending himself in defense of his Mormonism, and his ability as both a Latter Day Saint and parent, but it serves no good purpose to the musical quality of the album, and quite frankly ruins a lot of the lyrics.
Unfortunately, the Killers are not U2. They are not Coldplay, and they are certainly not Muse. Even a simple restructuring of the songs (by placing the vocals and electronic music further back behind the guitar) could have saved this album from mediocrity. However, the terrible production work and completely uninspired lyrics leave little for the album to float on. This is not to say that the days of stadium rock are over – fans need look no further than Green Day’sUno, Dos, and Tre tour – but for The Killers, they very well might be.