Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Killers - Battle Born

It's fair to say The Killers have never matched their early success.  Debut album 'Hot Fuss' is pretty much universally praised as their best work and, since then, they've constantly looked backwards, attempting to recreate the magic.  'Battle Born' is yet another failed attempt.

Where the music industry has moved on since the band's debut in 2004, The Killers have stuck to their own template with very little progression.  'Battle Born' offers nothing we haven't heard before, from a band that are running out of ideas as they struggle to live up to expectations.

That's not to say this is a carbon copy of their previous albums.  For the most part they've dropped the disco and focused predominantly on Americana - Bruce Springsteen's 80s stadium rock is a clear influence.  From Here On Out is an obvious example.  This may be a novelty in today's charts, but it still feels old fashioned.  Many of the songs have equivalents on previous albums: the intro of Miss Atomic Bomb is a dead-ringer to Human - as is opening track Flesh and Bone; the driving rhythms of A Matter of Time are all too familiar from Somebody Told Me.  

In fact, the overall sound is mostly informed by their biggest, anthemic hits like When We Were Young and the aforementioned Human.  'Battle Born' is too big for small speakers and needs to be heard live on-stage. Even so, the songs feel overblown with unimaginative choruses and lyrics that can't stand up to the guitars.  The line "here's a towel, go on throw it in" from A Matter of Time is a particularly bad offender.  Here With Me is obviously meant as the dominant power ballad but the chorus lumbers along with the line "don't want your picture on my cell phone, I want you here with me", the little electro fragments and additional percussion slapping on the cheese in thick layers.  It's on an emotional and stylistic par with Brian Adams' Everything I Do (I Do It For You), lacking any subtlety.

'Battle Born' isn't a bad album per se.  The songs are decent and will sound euphoric enough on the inevitable tour.  But it's an incredible disappointment from a band that show so much promise.  It neither stumbles nor excels where its predecessors did - this isn't 'Sam's Town' but neither does it come close to the highs of 'Hot Fuss', instead falling somewhere between.  A shame, as The Killers are capable of so much more.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Flesh and Bone
* A Matter of Time
* Deadlines and Commitments

Listen: 'Battle Born' is available now.

Watch: The Killers will tour the UK in November.