Whilst The Killers are a Nevada, US-based band, their British connection is just as potent; for it was in 2004 behind the Brixton Academy where Brandon Flowers first met fans of his band wearing “The Killers” t-shirts recalling earlier this year the “warm feeling” he felt “from it”. Also, when supporting British Sea Power on their UK tour, The Killers were first given a rider which consisted of “essentials such as hummus, beer and water”. After selling over 28 million LP’s and selling out 250,00 tickets for their now postponed UK tour; Brandan Flowers of The Killers is still able to humbly recall acts of kindness, affection and signs that his band is doing something right.
Although The Killers logo remains unchanged; the artwork for Imploding the Mirage exuberates signs of progress and discovery by uniting the best of William Blake, Georgia O’Keefe and Agnes Pelton. With a band as accomplished as The Killers, this LP naturally features contributions from many prominent artists including Lindsey Buckingham, K.D. Lang, Weyes Blood, Adam Granduciel (The War on Drugs), Blake Mills and Lucius, however, this should not be interpreted as a sign of a change of character; Flowers never gets tired of playing the classics like “Mr Brightside” live and has rebuked bands “who withhold those types of songs from their fans”.
Opening with “My Own Soul’s Warning” there is an introductory soundscape as if one is tranquilly perusing the natural beauty of the forest before the Springsteen inspired 80s synth-rock kicks in which is enhanced with occasional additional bass. Whilst there is an absence in the element of surprise musically; the prowess of the lyrics has not withered. The opening two lines “I tried going against my own soul’s warning. But in the end, something just didn’t feel right” will lead to introspection and is something pretty much most The Killers fans will be able to connect with. The thought-provoking lyrics don’t end there; “Dying Breed” connects with “There’s gonna be opposition. Ain’t no way around it? But if you’re looking for strong and steady. Well, baby, you found it” as does the concluding lines of “Caution” with “Cause it’s some kind of sin to live your whole life”.
Whilst Imploding the Mirage elatedly delivers lyrically; the over musical direction lacks the element of surprise by meandering into the safety net of ’80s tinged synth-pop fused with rock. For instance “Blowback” after a “Knight Rider” influenced intro falls back into the predicted formula as does “Fire in Bone” despite its promising g-funk beginnings. The penultimate track similarly begins on a path like the hauntingly soothing The Killers classic “Tranquilize” (which the band made with the late Lou Reed) but falls back into a void filled with inoffensive comfort.
The piano-led “Lightning Fields”, whilst deflecting from the synth elements resonates too closely to “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s 1986 hit “Similarly, “Running towards a Place” will for many recall an uncanny resemblance to Aztec Camera’s sound. The playout track, “Imploding the Mirage” despite its impressively haunting origins leaves one humming Starship’s “We Built This City” after the end of play.
Nonetheless, despite the tendency to lean towards a rock sound with an overreaching 80’s synth-pop backdrop; pockets of innovation and standout tunes can be heard across Imploding the Mirage. “My God” with a spiritually uplifting gospel choir is passionate, raw, and develops progressively with powerful guitars and pounding drums equating the passion and drive delivered across Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town. Furthermore, the lyrics “Don’t talk to me about forgiveness just look who’s back in business. My God” espouse calls for change and fighting spirit.
Flowers has confessed that initially making Imploding the Mirage was challenging saying “We were trying to make it sound like the band wasn’t fractured,” says Flowers. “And trying to sound like the Killers. It was almost like we were doing this dumbed-down, mannequin version of the band.” Dave Keuning (who Flowers wrote “Mr Brightside” with) being on hiatus since 2017 has definitely taken its toll. Whilst Flowers strong words could evoke thoughts of a broken band; this is a gross exaggeration. The Killers more than satisfy their mass global fan base with Imploding the Mirage as their ability to write standout tracks is demonstrated, however; the tendency for this band to fall into a comfort zone is also evidenced.