By Nancy Bowne
If it weren’t for Brandon Flower’s chiseled punk guyliner and sultry voice, I probably would have tried to move on from 00’s rock bands. The Killers have been held in limbo for quite some time in the midst of these trying times, so why not shoot 2020 in the foot and release their new album, “Imploding the Mirage?” But this foot sets off running with quite an explosive array of figments in a time capsule.
Released Aug. 21, “Imploding the Mirage” is exploding in the charts. According to Billboard, the Las Vegas-based band has reached number one in U.K. charts, with 44,000 chart sales in the first three days, the second highest average this year, behind Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica.”
Brandon Flowers probably spent a lot of time reflecting during quarantine, especially upon the album’s inspiration of his migration from Las Vegas to Utah to raise his family. He’s also been indirectly gathering influence from Bruce Springsteen, War on Drugs and M83, along with ‘80s synth-pop. But it works and makes for an enjoyable 42 minutes.
And thank goodness, we need something new from the dependable force. With ten tracks, “Imploding the Mirage” just begs for road trip vibes in quarantine. And with it’s elusive title, you can come to terms with the fact that you won’t exactly understand where they are from or what they’re trying to portray emotionally — but it sounds cool along the way nonetheless.
As an extension of its general mood and tone, the cover art of “Imploding the Mirage” represents all of its songs under the banner of the art. Through a lush mixture of pastels and sand tones, the album cover depicts a woman and an old man as spiritual wind gusts, gliding and waltzing over a valley, connecting a rainbow and a storm cloud on an otherwise clear, empty day.
The album begins with the mystical voyage of “My Own Soul’s Warning.” In all sincerity, The Killers create a beautiful universe of imagery: cigarette clouds, gritty dust and white dresses running fast in a lightning field.
The band paints this mirage with great crescendos, and cradles into catchy riffs that just keep surging forward. A common trend in modern music nowadays is to use synthesizers. The Killers don’t just use it; they pepper a side of song to the main course of the synthesizer. “Blowback” has an intro that is reminiscent of the “Stranger Things” theme music synths (which, hey, I’m not complaining! I just expected to see boys on bikes any second). But then, it transitions into country, and then into majestic landscapes you could imagine in a car commercial.
The lyrics paint a story in many of these songs, and The Killers do that quite well, as usual. For their fourth track, “Caution,” the lyrics stand out as clever and surprising. They talk about this girl; “her momma was a dancer, and that’s all she knew. ‘Cus when you live in the desert, it’s what pretty girls do.” Woah, Brandon. “White trash from the news, straight from zero to the Fourth of July.” Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this to be a desert rock band ceremony, but then again, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I appreciate the continued support for the American frontier. They even released their own Apple Music movie about the girl in “Caution,” extending the overarching sense of hope and freedom to a new level of creativity and cohesiveness in multimedia.
The album mellows as it continues — no longer as brash, but calm and reflective. Tracks like “My God,” the eighth track, has a choir in the background that is full of hope and reassurance.
From the punk, thought-provoking writers of “Are We Human or Are We Dancer,” The Killers are still distinct in their vocals and earthiness. While they are inspired by so many different sounds, The Killers still need to discover their personal style beyond imitation of decades.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this album. It sets a good ambiance. I think that has become the leading purpose of music lately. All we can do is multitask, so this will fit right in with your online classes. I chose to listen to this outside on an Adirondack chair, with squirrels stalking me and picking up pieces of grass. It’s weird to take time to relax, but along with The Killers, perhaps it’s a good time to expound upon our existence and seek “the rains” “When the Dreams Run Dry,” (the title of the ninth track).
While The Killers have had a somewhat consistent style throughout their career, do they ever bring something new to the table? Perhaps they bring just the same style. But then again, we can’t get enough of it.