Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since."Back in the ’80s, I had a couple of songs that kind of fell on deaf ears. I said, Well, I gu...
Published: 05/23/18
Transform your weeknight cooking with this kitchen tool

Transform your weeknight cooking with this kitchen tool

Once upon a time, way back in the annals of home cooking, there was an era before sheet-pan suppers.In that dark age, even well-equipped kitchens did not have so much as a single professional sheet pan, let alone the two or three deemed indispensable...
Published: 05/23/18
8 ways to get on the water in Tampa Bay if you don't own a boat

8 ways to get on the water in Tampa Bay if you don't own a boat

According to the old wisdom, the two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. There’s also an argument to be made for the day when a generous friend buys one. Boating, from the sun to the bre...
Published: 05/22/18
Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

Cress Williams of ‘Black Lightning’ talks Season 2, being recognized as a superhero before MegaCon Orlando

No matter what Cress Williams does the rest of his acting career, he’ll always be remembered as the first to play Black Lightning.The 47-year-old actor with roles on ER, Grey’s Anatomy and Friday Night Lights is now that face of a DC comics franchise...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18
Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Five ideas for cooking with lavender

Lavender is almost as pretty to smell as it is to look at, but as far as taste goes, the results aren’t always as appealing. A little like cilantro, lavender can taste soapy to some people, making it a tricky plant to use properly. But, when used the...
Published: 05/22/18
I tried making restaurant-quality braised short ribs at home

I tried making restaurant-quality braised short ribs at home

One of my 2018 cooking resolutions was to cook at least 10 things this year that I never have before. Somewhere near the top of my list was short ribs. You can hardly eat at a restaurant now without seeing short rib in some form on the menu: braised,...
Published: 05/22/18

Local production of "Ain’t Retirement Grand!" promises lots of laughs

HUDSON — What to do in the golden years? Early bird specials, doctor’s appointments, figuring out who to leave what in your will? Or maybe just take some time out for a few laughs about the situation.A local production of Ain’t Retirement Grand! migh...
Published: 05/22/18
Despite Walt Disney's wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant

Despite Walt Disney's wishes, you can now buy alcohol at every Magic Kingdom restaurant

Well, you did it millennials. As of this month, every sit-down restaurant in the Magic Kingdom now serves alcohol. It was a big deal back in 2012 when the world’s most visited theme park broke with Uncle Walt’s mandate to keep alcohol ou...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18