In a current Rolling Stone interview, The Killers make the case for his or her first new album in 5 years, providing a sequence of quotes that might have hailed straight from a press launch: “The easiest way to place it’s that I needed to inhabit my age, so it’s a snapshot—a real illustration of the place we’re at,” says singer Brandon Flowers, describing each single album ever made by anybody. That lack of any actual route or goal colours all of Great Great, a document that, even by The Killers’ requirements, boasts little depth beneath its shiny floor. Whereas that slickness has yielded greatness previously—“All These Issues That I’ve Completed” stays a hypnotically catchy emotional anthem, the identical for “Mr. Brightside,” although it might need aged higher if not for radio overplay—there’s nothing right here to equal these moments.
Issues get off to a rocky and pretentious begin with the title monitor, which is led by a meant-to-be-inspiring horn name and tribal drumbeat—like U2 wandered over drunk from The Joshua Tree. The refrain addresses a “motherless baby” with a sequence of annoyingly affected historic pronouns (“Motherless baby does thou consider / That thine afflictions have brought on us to grieve?”) and a melody line closely paying homage to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” kicking off a biblical theme that will get hammered on later.
Issues dumb down virtually immediately for first single “The Man,” paying homage to the theme tune for an ’80s motion determine or a novelty lower that will get spun early within the night at Studio 54 earlier than the coke kicked in. Flowers’ frequent themes of jealousy or remorse are tossed apart in favor of a string of lyrics created merely to precise his “Man”-ness (“USDA licensed lean”), throughout a disco beat that’s not almost catchy sufficient to beat this stage of stupidity.
The top-scratching continues with “Rut,” through which it appears like Flowers is already apologizing for the album itself (“Don’t hand over on me / ’Trigger I’m in a rut”) with a treacly ballad that will match completely onto a compilation of rom-com themes. In the course of singing about breaking free from monotony, Flowers repeats the phrase “and I’ll climb” 18 times in a row. Wonderful’s decidedly ’80s road detours into Flowers’ oft-visited Springsteen territory on the more effective “Life To Come,” where the strength of his considerable vocals triumphs over the measly synths they’re stacked upon, even as it still seems like he’s trying to get you to give the album a shot (“Have a little faith”).
For its middle run, Wonderful proves that at least a little faith is justified. “Run For Cover” delivers the kind of hooks that characterized the band’s earliest hits, but even it pales in comparison to “Tyson Vs. Douglas,” which finds its unlikely, powerful inspiration in a look back at the famous fight, an apparently formative experience for Flowers. Its command of lovely, lasting metaphors is so good that it only throws into stark relief the emptiness of its predecessors.
After a pair of sweet and savory, romantic yet forgettable odes (“Some Kind Of Love” and “Out Of My Mind”), The Killers pull out all the stops for “The Calling,” a twangy Western tragedy about a rural family living a life in which salvation is only a Good Book—or an eternity—away: “Brother, just lean into the light.” The song, which kicks off with a Bible verse reading from Woody Harrelson (sure, why not?), has the cinematic feel that The Killers evoke so well, in both their music and videos. Once again, it leaves you wishing that the band could have offered 10 more songs of similar caliber.
Maybe The Killers wish that, too. The album ends with “Have All The Songs Been Written?” (“I just need one to get through to you”), as poignant a depiction of the songwriting process as you’re likely to find, one that ruminates in various melodic machinations before falling into a frustrated build, perpetually looking for that perfect song. We’re all looking for it. On Wonderful Wonderful, The Killers almost come close to finding it, but too often get sidetracked. So that’s where they’re at.
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