There are points on new album ‘Imploding The Mirage’ when The Killers feel like little less than an unstoppable force of nature. It’s a record replete with exhortations to the storm, an album bedecked in thunder and lightning; a group surging across the desert, the band’s powerful stadium-smashing anthems are short on irony, but instead veer towards the kind of life-affirming rock Brandon Flowers has spent a lifetime trying to perfect.
2017’s ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ ended The Killers’ time away from one another in some style, presenting a band whose raucous appetite has yet to be sated. ‘Imploding The Mirage’ vaults these achievements effortlessly, a breathless career-high from the Las Vegas group, pitching the wide open vistas so potently explored in their lyrics against tender evocations of love and faith.
In a way, it’s a record torn between two poles. At times, The Killers surge towards blue collar homeland rock; Fleetwood Mac legend Lindsey Buckingham appears on ‘Caution’, while k.d. lang registers a beautiful guest appearance on ‘Lightning Fields’, tempering Brandon Flowers’ Freddie-at-Live-Aid ambitions. Yet there’s also an experimental thirst, a yearning to create a link with the underground – Secretly Canadian artist Alex Cameron co-writes four songs, while Weyes Blood is the evocative counterpoint on The Killers’ spiritual statement ‘My God’.
There’s even the odd musical quotation, too. ‘Dying Breed’ is a statement from a band out of time, a group who have long out-stripped their peers – yet it opens with a bubbling, Neu! style motorik rhythm, swapping the autobahn for a desert highway. The 80s gloss on ‘Running Towards A Place’, meanwhile, harks back to the band’s roots, while also nodding towards the pivotal work of Scottish aesthetes The Blue Nile.
When The Killers balance these two instincts ‘Imploding The Mirage’ hits some insurmountable peaks. Opener ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ carries itself in blissful ambience for those first few bars, before exploding out of the traps into a main stage wrestling, fist-pumping monster. ‘Fire In Bone’ is sheer peak era Simple Minds hedonism, the band embracing wide open spaces, securing endless vistas as a mirror to their own unquenchable artistic desire.
Lead single ‘Caution’ perfectly crystallises what The Killers are striving to achieve. Entering with a hive of sonic exploration, it suddenly snaps into focus with a sinew-wrenching, lung-bursting performance from Brandon Flowers, and a lyric that turns Las Vegas self-reflection into a kind of gilded American Dream self-mythologising quest.
Sheer, unabashed stadium sonics delivered with a heart of gold, ‘Imploding The Mirage’ finds The Killers providing one of the biggest – in both a sonic and emotional sense – albums of their career. It’s a propulsive achievement, pushing their songwriting to the limit in a thrilling, Devil-may-care manner. Irony-free and infused with feeling until it bursts, ‘Imploding The Mirage’ is the counterpoint to quarantine claustrophobia – it’s the sound of countless doors being opened, with The Killers stepping away from their limitations in a blast of undiluted ambitions.
Words: Robin Murray
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