Much has changed since the glory days of Mr Brightside and the like; Battle Born is a painstakingly patriotic echo of the eighties. More American than a star-spangled apple pie.
Tales of desert travelling, the end of innocence and the changing family structure appear to represent a coming of age of sorts compared to its psychedelic precedent, Day and Age. However, frontman and songsmith Brandon Flowers hasn’t dropped the Spaceman dream altogether, the album’s opener Flesh and Bone retains that futuristic fantasy, and it’s one of the best on the album.
If there’s one thing the Killers never fail to do, it’s write a brilliant anthem. That’s one comfortably familiar feature of this album; power guitar progressions, incessant rhythms and of course Flowers’ distinctive vocals. Here with Me is your iPhone-in-the-air*, crowd swaying ballad, starting with some refreshingly gentle piano, building to the massive chant of a chorus. As with many songs of the album, it’s a time capsule from 30 years ago: via Springsteen and The Human League, The Killers have created something quite original, though perhaps it’s more at home on Dad’s road trip playlist than Radio 1.
Battle Born is essentially a catalogue of decent guitar pop. A change in style isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might take a couple of listens to adjust. Thus, it’s definitely a grower.
* Disclaimer: other brands of mobile phone are available.