Sunday, December 17, 2017
Features and More

Review: The Killers' new album 'Battle Born' is sweet surrender to band's musical heroes

If new Killers album Battle Born sounds like an arena-rocking cross between U2 and Bruce Springsteen, with a sprinkling of heart-sleeved Brit-pop tossed in there too, that's entirely the populistic point.

Not only are Brandon Flowers & Co. loyal to the largeness of their Las Vegas homeland (the record's rallying-cry title is on the Nevada state flag), they're unabashed believers in biting — respectfully so — from their musical heroes. They still indulge in swirly synth nods to the Pet Shop Boys and '80s-spawned New Romantics, but on their fourth LP, their main influences are much more swaggerful.

Just check out the list of Battle Born's all-star producers and co-writers: Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite are U2 loyalists, both of whom worked on Bono and the Dublin boys' Joshua Tree. You can hear that tingly Where the Streets Have No Name expanse and crescendo on opening track Flesh and Bone. Fran Healy, from '90s Scottish band Travis, helps the lovesick boys write prom-sized breakup beauty Here With Me ("I don't want your picture / On my cellphone / I want you here with me"). That song is so good, so seductive, I must have listened to it six straight times.

But hey, who wouldn't want to work with the Killers? Led by Flowers, they aim high and mighty, no room for subtlety in this quartet, no room for artifice, either. They believe in what they're emoting, and they believe robustly. I had to laugh the first time I heard galloping single Runaways ("Teenage rush, she said / Ain't we all just runaways / We got time / But that ain't much"), which is both a great track and, for that matter, a makeshift sequel to Springsteen's Born to Run. It's no coincidence that the track was produced by Brendan O'Brien, who was the Boss's man for years.

At a time when pop and rock radio is filled with acts trying to adapt to the times and trends, the Killers know exactly who they want to be when they grow up. Battle Born eventually gets too big for its own good; the anthems start to lose their oomph toward the end. The Killers did the same thing with '04 debut Hot Fuss — head-spinning neo-gospel march All These Things That I've Done ("I've got soul but I'm not a soldier") was the fifth track but it was pretty much the finale, too.

So yes, after a strong start, there are cluttered moments. Deadlines and Commitments aims to rouse as well; there's a thumpy drum part for Ronnie Vannucci, but the song trips itself, too many words and bleep-bloop tricks. The Rising Tide is nerdy postpunk, a novelty at best, filler at worst. "Let's go out tonight / There's a mystery under the neon light." C'mon, that's way too easy, guys.

More often that not, though, Battle Born gets the blood pumping. Miss Atomic Bomb sounds like shiny exit music John Hughes would have used for a teen-defiant Molly Ringwald — and yes, the song explodes just as the name promises. Heart of a Girl is a slow-build tutorial in seduction, and producer Lanois gives Flowers cheeky carte blanche to raid Bono's randy vocal tricks.

Appropriately enough, the closing title track is a kitchen-sink, full-tilt-boogie dustup of whatever energy and ideas the band has left — the sonic equivalent of an exploding can of Red Bull. It doesn't hook you like the album's best tracks, but you can't fault the ambition and attitude. The Killers love a good high-speed, get-the-girl chase. Who wouldn't want to ride shotgun?

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.

Comments
She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

She was about to celebrate her 94th birthday — and ended up in the back of a police car

Two days before her 94th birthday, Juanita Fitzgerald was arrested and hauled off to jail.The Eustis woman’s crime?She was being evicted and had fallen behind on her rent, WFTV 9 News reported. Instead of vacating her home at the National Church Resi...
Published: 12/16/17
Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

Fueled by indulgence and machismo, restaurants are a hotbed for sexual harassment

When Brenda Terry was 16 and living in St. Louis, she was a host and food runner at a sports bar where female employees wore cute little cheerleading skirts. One night, she said, a patron grabbed her crotch. She ran to her management team and they de...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Festivus 2017: Send us your grievances

Festivus 2017: Send us your grievances

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Self-serve beer bar opens Saturday in downtown St. Pete

Pour Taproom, a craft beer bar with 85 taps that customers pour their own brew from, will open at noon on Saturday, Dec. 16. The nearly 2,300-square-foot bar at 225 Second Ave. N has undergone extensive renovations, including a St. Petersburg-themed...
Published: 12/15/17
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to marry May 19

LONDON — Kensington Palace says the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be held on May 19. The palace announced the date Friday and confirmed the ceremony will take place in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The couple announced their...
Published: 12/15/17
Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

Inside Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first Christmas without leader Paul O’Neill

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A half hour to curtain, Al Pitrelli unwinds on a couch in his spartan dressing quarters, fresh off a loading-dock Marlboro. He’s deep inside an arena, about to play the 29th show in the 18th city of the Trans-Siberian ...
Published: 12/15/17
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 18-24.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Dec. 18-24.

Gasparilla Bowl: The postseason college football game at Tropicana Field on Thursday brings Florida International University from Conference USA to play the Temple Owls from the American Athletic Conference. ($40-$80). gasparillabowl.com. The 8 p.m....
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Tavis Smiley theatrical show canceled at Straz Center in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that Tavis Smiley was slated to bring to Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has been canceled in the wake sexual misconduct allegations against the broadcaster.Death...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

PARADES Homosassa Christmas Boat Parade Parade begins at Marker 75 by Bird Island. Free. Homosassa Springs Marina, 10806 W Halls River Road, Homosassa. 6 p.m. Dec. 16.   Indian Rocks Beach Boat Parade It begins at the Holiday Inn Harbourside and...
Published: 12/14/17
Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Take a second and try to think of a few of the world’s biggest drinking cultures. Ireland is a freebie, but then you’ll probably move onto Germany, Russia and possibly even South Korea (yep, South Korea goes hard).How about Spain? No, I’m not just ta...
Published: 12/14/17