When people think of the Killers, they almost always think of the early 2000’s hit “Mr. Brightside.” Still played regularly at college parties, “Mr. Brightside” has remained in the UK Top 100 charts since 2004 – an achievement no other modern rock band has accomplished. What people don’t know is that the band has released five albums since the classic hit; each one better than the last. However, after the release of “Battle Born” in 2012, the band went quiet. Touring slowed down and the Killers only appeared at an occasional summer festival.
Apart from a few singles and a greatest hits compilation, the Las Vegas-bred band was radio silent. Avid fans like myself were worried that this was the end. Finally, after a five-year break, the Killers announced that their latest album “Wonderful, Wonderful” would be released in September of 2017. Naturally, I was thrilled and my expectations were high. Upon its release, the album surpassed my expectations and eventually became my favorite Killers album yet.
The album “Wonderful, Wonderful” has ten songs, with two bonus tracks on the deluxe version. The band reinvents itself on every album, which each have a different tone, indicating the growth and success of the music. While the 2012 album “Battle Born” has a teenage-runaway feel, “Wonderful, Wonderful” digs a little deeper. The first single released from the album is called “Run For Cover,” and it takes a not-so-subtle stab at Donald Trump. Lyrics like “he’s got a big smile, he’s fake news” and “are your excuses any better than your senator’s” are intended to make a statement against the president. While the song seems to make a current political statement, “Run For Cover” was actually written nine years ago for the album “Day & Age.” Lead singer Brandon Flowers claims that he fell in love with the first verse of the song, but he just didn’t feel like the rest of it was ready. He was waiting for a breakthrough, and America’s recent political division seemed to be the perfect inspiration. Whether the song has anything to do with immigration policies (which many fans argue) or just fear of Trump, in general, is still up for debate. Either way, “Run For Cover” was a perfect single to prepare fans for a heavily emotional and passionate album.
While “Run For Cover” serves as a ballad for political strife, the album’s hit “The Man” provides fans with a fun and upbeat tune reminiscent of their 2008 album “Day & Age.” Upon my first listen, I was a bit confused with the tone of the song. Flowers, usually an incredibly modest songwriter, flaunts his success and charm as a young man in Las Vegas. However, after looking into the writing process of the song, I began to understand the message. In an interview, drummer Ronnie Vannucci claimed that “The Man” is a mockery of how the band felt in their early twenties – invincible, resilient and a little cocky. I was fortunate enough to see the Killers in concert in Atlanta this January, and “The Man” quickly became my favorite song on the album. Flowers performed the song with unparalleled energy, smiling and laughing with the crowd while dancing across the stage. That kind of passion, along with the song’s happy-go-lucky tone, made a lasting impact on my perception of not only “The Man,” but the album as a whole. The song doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the album, but it serves as a perfect contrast to the more serious songs to come.
The next two songs I will discuss, “Rut” and “Some Kind of Love,” indicate the deep emotion in the album to which I’ve been referring. “Rut” gives fans an insight into Flowers’s personal life and serves as a possible explanation as to why “Wonderful, Wonderful” took five years to produce. The song is unique because it is told in the perspective of Flowers’s wife. As suggested in the song “Some Kind of Love,” Tana Flowers has recently battled severe mental illness, putting stress on the family and Flowers’s career. In the song, Tana pleas for Brandon not to “give up on me, ‘cause I’m just in a rut.” “The Rut” has a hopeful tone as the narrator states that they’ll keep climbing and fighting. “Some Kind of Love” is the second song Flowers wrote for his wife on the album, and if “The Rut” doesn’t tug at your emotions, this one certainly will. In this song, Flowers tells his wife how powerful she is. He tells her that she has a love and a faith stronger than any pain she may endure. And, most importantly, he tells her he needs her (I’m not crying, you’re crying). To top it off, the song’s final stanzas are sung by Flowers and his three children. This song tore at my heart when I heard the kids sing, “Can’t do this alone/ We need you at home/ There’s so much to see/ We know that you’re strong.” You can feel the desperation in Flowers’s voice. You can feel the passion and pain in the music. I hope that I’m able to relay how incredibly moving these songs are, but I don’t think words can do them justice. Mental illness impacts everyone, whether it has happened to you or someone you love. So, while the songs are written specifically for Flowers’s wife, the lyrics can feel personally empowering.
One of the final songs in the album, “The Calling,” made it into this article because of the jarring introduction. The song opens with a Bible quote from Matthew 9:10-12, spoken by none other than Woody Harrelson. In the quoted verse, Jesus tells the Pharisees that he has come not to aid the righteous but to guide the sinners back into the light. Harrelson’s foreboding tone, along with the faint music sends goosebumps up my arms every time. Although the song has biblical references, the lyrics take on an ominous tone. Chronicling a man’s return to his hometown to confront his unruly father, the narrator states that “they buried my sister but, daddy, he stayed the same.” Flowers urges the father not to resist, but to “lean into the light.” Despite the dark undertone, I find the song extremely endearing and thought-provoking. Along with “The Rut” and “Some Kind of Love,” “The Calling” reaches deeper than former Killers hits such as “Human” and “Mr. Brightside.”
“Wonderful, Wonderful” is unique in that it allows fans to see the band members as more than just musicians. The album is much more personal than any prior. It has a message of both faith and despair, and I feel myself rising and falling with the music every time I listen. Many songs, particularly “Some Kind of Love,” have given me hope for a better future, and I hope it does the same for you. Unfortunately, it took seeing the band live for me to fall in love with certain tracks like “The Man,” but now I can’t get enough. And although the gap was painful for fans like me, the five-year hiatus was well worth it. Congratulations and many thanks to the Killers – I can’t wait to see what’s next.