By Samuel Orazem EBS Contributor
The declining popularity of arena rock over the past decades led many bands to adopt what has been colloquially dubbed a “more mature sound.” This change usually indicates that the group has either chosen to refine their specific take on the genre or they have taken their talents to greener, trendier pastures.
The Killers serve as the counterpoint to all those bands that chose to grow up. Sixteen years ago, the Las Vegas-based group’s debut album “Hot Fuss” lit up the rock scene. It was filled with the confidence, youthful energy and intoxicating immaturity of Sin City.
“Imploding the Mirage,” the Killers’ sixth record, is the work of a group that refuses to let go of its past but is simultaneously revolted by the idea of sounding stale. It sports the same timeless quality as the city they call home.
The opening track, “My Own Soul’s Warning” begins with lead singer Brandon Flowers’s voice cutting through a stormy, eerie, sonic landscape before exploding into a combination of joyful strings, guitars and upbeat drums. Flowers sings about making mistakes and getting back up in a tone that does not quite line up with the lyrics. He bellows, “Cutting up my nights, like a goddamned knife” in a manner that makes such a vicious image sound as benign as a stubbed toe.
That sort of slow opening from the opening track is found throughout “Imploding the Mirage.” The third track, “Dying Breed,” begins with a mismatch between the Ronnie Vannucci Jr’s dance-inspiring drums and the rest of the band. Vannucci hits a massive fill at the two-minute mark that launches the song into the stratosphere. It feels like you are driving out of Vegas into the vast Nevada desert and suddenly you see the speed limit jump by 20 mph.
Even the more ballad-like tracks sport an infectious energy and optimism. The Killers have taken up the mantle of being the sages of a strange, neon-tinged temple of Vegas Dharma.
For example, “When The Dreams Run Dry” talks about the somber topic of time lost and how much longer we have. Somehow, Flowers makes somber lyrics like “we’re all going to die” sound positive. He discusses letting go of the reigns and enjoying the path you are on without fear or worry.
With “Imploding the Mirage,” The Killers have managed to tap back into what made “Hot Fuss” such a ubiquitous hit. The latest album is as full of the youthful immaturity and uncertainty as their debut was but, paradoxically, also manages to present a more refined version of their signature sound.
While it’s unlikely that any of the 10 new tracks will be the next “Mr. Brightside,” The Killers’ uncompromising commitment to what made them successful makes “Imploding the Mirage” a delightful listen. The only real downside is that we only got 42 minutes of new material.
Samuel Orazem is a political science student at UCLA with a passion for music, its contributions to cultural development, and its potential for empowering social and political mobilization.