You can already picture the stirring title track from The Killers’ fifth record being used as a melodramatic opener for their upcoming arena tour. The lights go down, the cinematic sultry horns ring out over pounding drums for a good few minutes. Brandon and co. are walking on new terrain.
While being far too reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ opens up into an epic chanted chorus. With orchestral flourishes and theatrics turned up to eleven, it could easily be plonked over the the opening titles of the next James Bond movie, while Daniel Craig strolls through the desert in silhouette. Cause y’know, The Killers love the desert.
Flowers takes on the role of indie’s very own 007 on banger of a lead single ‘The Man’. The frontman turns his slightly awkward, self-conscious traits on their head in favour of tongue-in-cheek over-confidence. The result? A muscle-flexing, Vegas strip-strutting and tux-donning display of dazzling disco. Taking influence from Bowie’s ‘Fame’, its sassy groove is bursting at the seams with deep bass synth and glistening keys. It’s a genre and trend that many of their peers are attempting to tackle, but The Killers really hit the nail on the head here, with their best single since way back in the ‘Sam’s Town’ days.
If ‘The Man’ sees Flowers’ alter-ego on a hedonistic late-night trip through sin city, then the hazier synth-heavy, new wave highlight ‘Out Of My Mind’ is his next morning self — name-dropping to impress the occupant of his bed, heart, and head. “Oh we’re falling,” Flowers repeats over glossy guitar licks and crisp drums.
We’re transported back to the mid-‘00s on the anthemic ’Run For Cover’. It’s the band’s attempt to tick all the boxes for those craving a bit of that ‘classic’ Killers sound, complete with crunching Joy Division-style axe shreds. The jabbing, hundred-miles-an-hour vocals in the verse make way for a pint-dropping, singalong choruses that are match fit for next summer’s festival crowds. Nothing new to see, but it does the job. Later, a riff-dominated ‘The Calling’ throbs with sleaze, sounding like a slightly sinister version of ‘Spirit In The Sky’.
Elsewhere, ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ feels more polished and restrained. We enter a dreamlike state on the emotional ’Some Kind Of Love’, which acknowledges living with PTSD. Though The Killers have always had one foot in the ‘80s, they take it a step further by building the track around Brian Eno’s 1983 piece ‘An Ending’. The understated track floats along before Flowers’s harmonies are mixed in with his children’s voices, who sing “Can’t do this alone, we need you at home / There’s so much to see, we know that you’re strong”.
Aside from a few big hitters, ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ has too many middle-of-the-road moments. ‘Life Itself’, ‘The Rut’, and ‘Have All The Songs Been Written’ are barely distinguishable, and instantly forgettable — with Flowers himself asking if there’s anything left to talk about on the album closer. And with Dave Keuning and Mark Stoermer’s departures from touring, it hardly feels like the big comeback you’d expect after a five-year absence. There might have been gas in the tank when ‘The Man’ dropped a few months back — but how long it will last is another question.
Words: Tom Skinner
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