The Killers have made their best album in over a decade with ‘Imploding the Mirage’ – review
The Killers were never going to be "cool." They were relative latecomers to the early 2000s post-punk revival, and they didn't come from hip London or New York City but from Las Vegas, whose glitzy aesthetic influenced The Killers' own image, making for a flashy contrast to The Strokes' Converse, leather jackets, and jeans and Interpol's sophisticated black suits. But coolness be damned, The Killers wrote great songs, and those songs have stood the test of time more so than a lot of the trendier bands of the era. Their 2004 debut album Hot Fuss took obvious notes from The Strokes and Interpol's instant-classic debuts, as well as a whole lot of New Order influence, and even putting aside that "Mr. Brightside" became one of the defining indie/alternative rock songs of the 2000s, Hot Fuss is stacked from start to finish and it remains one of the most beloved debut albums of the era. Its 2006 followup Sam's Town traded New Order/Strokes worship for Springsteen worship -- which would be the direction The Killers would continue in from that day forward -- and '80s Boss rip-offs were probably even less cool than New Order rip-offs, but once again The Killers' songwriting prevailed. Sam's Town highlight "When You Were Young" remains perhaps their best-ever song.
Sam's Town's 2008 followup Day & Age is maybe a little top-heavy (it peaks with its first three songs), but the highs are high and it remained The Killers' last moment of greatness before frontman Brandon Flowers launched his (pretty good) solo career in the 2010s, the same decade The Killers released two lackluster albums: 2012's Battle Born and 2017's Wonderful Wonderful. It's seemed for a while that both the band and their fans would be content with them headlining festivals and arenas off the strength of their 2000s hits, but something must have changed, as The Killers have just released what is easily their best album in at least a decade. They're still in Springsteen territory on Imploding the Mirage, but this time they're doing it in a way that channels the propulsive indie-heartland rock of The War On Drugs, and they got War On Drugs leader Adam Granduciel himself to contribute, while frequent TWOD collaborator Shawn Everett co-produced the album with fellow cool-dad-rock musician (and in-demand producer) Jonathan Rado of Foxygen. They also nabbed the great indie/classic rock line-blurrer Weyes Blood to sing the bridge on "My God" and the forever-cool Lindsey Buckingham (formerly) of Fleetwood Mac to rip a solo on "Caution." The Killers can probably get whoever they want to appear on their albums, but these seem like uniquely creative choices done out of love for those musicians' work.
The Killers channelling The War On Drugs and collaborating with Weyes Blood makes Imploding the Mirage appear more in touch with current indie rock than The Killers have appeared since the mid 2000s, but that's not the only reason the album excels. Like on the early albums, it's the songwriting -- their strongest in a long time -- that makes the album beg for repeated listens. At ten songs in 42 minutes, it's around the same length as most Killers albums, but it whips by in a way no Killers album has since Hot Fuss. Like with all of their albums, The Killers knew which Imploding the Mirage songs to choose as singles -- the very War On Drugs-y "Caution" and "My Own Soul's Warning," the sorta Arcade Fire-ish "Dying Breed," and the synthpop/new wavey "Fire In Bone" -- but the non-singles keep the momentum going on this album too. The fired-up rhythms on these songs give The Killers the kick in the ass they've needed for a long time, and those rhythms are matched by some of the catchiest rock songs you'll hear all year.
Imploding the Mirage is out now via Island. Stream it and watch some of its videos below...