What a difference a year makes. These days, that’s stating the obvious, of course. A microcosm of that notion is The Killers. The year 2019 saw them cement their place firmly as one of the most important bands in the world. To borrow a sports term, they are surely future hall of famers. Though it’s been three years since their last album, the band that “comes to you via fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” spent last year touring heavily to critical acclaim. Highlights included the Glastonbury Festival in England and the Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.
For 2020, The Killers finally released their long-awaited sixth studio album. After several delays, it finally appeared in late August. That might have been a good time to drop a review on PCB, but it occurred to me that initial impressions of an album are much different than those formed after a few months and multiple listens.
Imploding the Mirage continues the band’s somewhat subtle nods to their hometown, as evidenced by the title. Sonically it’s not far from their debut Hot Fuss.
“Caution” was the first single. Released in March, it’s familiar Killers imagery with Brandon Flowers telling a story in the third person while offering his reactions to what he’s observing. Similarly, the previous track, “Blowback,” opens the album and follows almost the same pattern. Musically, the former is more a synth/guitar hybrid, while the latter is a bit more ‘70s guitar inspired.
As if to counterpoint “Caution,” “Fire and Bone” was released as the second single. It’s a funky affair with a very prominent bassline. It doesn’t seem like a toe-tapper at first, but the melody grows on you, especially the chorus.
For the third single, the band went with the tried-and-true sounds of “My Own Soul’s Warning,” which has been picked up and played heavily by alternative radio. A nice melodic intro and thunderous keyboard hook make it pretty clear this was a song that was meant for their live set. That being said, it’s also a proper radio song.
The rest of the album offers variations on The Killer’s go-to execution, with a few interesting tweaks. The title track, for example, brings out a subtle ‘60s surf guitar and ‘60s pop keys. It has a nice vocal hook too. “Lightning Fields,” with k.d. lang, shows a previous unknown, but surprising, Sting influence circa Dream of the Blue Turtles.
The album closer, “Dreams Run Dry” is a very keyboard-ey tune that ends the set on a bit of a melancholy note, both musically and lyrically. The tempo picks up, but the listener still feels a bit of longing, which is no doubt intentional.
In recent interviews, lead singer Brandon Flowers has stated that the band wrote two albums worth of music and could drop their seventh album next year. What’s odd is that this album hasn’t been embraced with the same fervor as the previous ones, but that might be a perception caused by this wacky year. In any case, Imploding the Mirage is solid and makes the idea of the seventh album very appealing.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.