The Killers: Battle Born – album reviewThe Killers: Battle Born (Mercury Records)
Out Now

Nevada’s finest, The Killers, are back with their fourth studio album, Battle Born. Our man Paul Ariss has been listening to the album for us & gives us his thoughts on it below.

After a wait of four years between albums, this has no doubt left their faithful more than chomping at their collective bit, quite a pertinent metaphor given an album cover featuring a stallion against a backdrop of endless horizons that borders on self-parody. The last time I saw a cover like this it came with a free poster to adorn a whole supporting bedroom wall.

And how their devotees will devour themselves hungrily on this offering, an album made for highways and deserts, and big city dreaming by those imprisoned by small town restraints. The playing is crisp and huge, and Brandon Flowers vocals at his most expansive. No doubt by the time the band revisit these shores in November, each track will be absorbed into the fist-punching consciousness, and a wonderful time will be had by all.

Yet to those of us slightly on the outside looking in, there is a curiosity about Battle Born. After announcing their indie arrival to considerable acclaim on their aptly named Hot Fuss, the follow up Sam’s Town both divided and yet ultimately conquered as it soaked into the skin like the very best of Americana. Once the point had been made, however, they moved on, with Day And Age consolidating their progress and with more than a tease of experimentation. By now they had pretty much shaken off their shackles of endless comparisons to other bands, but Battle Born puts them firmly back in this territory.

It’s impossible not to feel the cosy pull of mid-eighties big polished radio rock nostalgia from the likes of Heart and Journey et-al that bounced out of the speakers of your Ford xr3i (third hand, obviously). It screams out of, well, every track. It’s evident through the power chorded veneer of Runaways, onwards through the ironically titled The Way It Was, and before you know it you’ve already face-to-face with Miss Atomic Bomb and battling The Rising Tide, arguably the albums strongest slow burner. Strike me down there’s even a taste of Meatloaf here.

On the way the pace slows a little, Here With Me already conjuring up images of blissful crowds belting back the lyrical refrain of ‘don’t want your picture, on my cell phone’ (though I dare any of them to replace cell phone with mobile, just for the sheer fun of it). Heart Of A Girl carries arguably the strongest emotional lyrical depth, with Be Still the calm before the retuning storm of the title track.

This is an album best served by an open road and the windows down, and in that it’s no bad thing, save for the vagaries of the British weather. Songs like these when done well – and these are – require a certain craft. If you’re looking for innovation however, if you’re hoping for growth, you may have to wait a while. Which raises the pertinent question – which way next?

But for now at least, it’s certainly a case of job done.

All words by Paul Ariss. More articles by Paul can be found here.

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Sketch contributor on BBC Radio 2 and 4 comedy shows. Shadow Writer on Series 7 and 8 of Channel 4’s Shameless, and contributor to its online platform.


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