The Killers’ ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ Explores the Grace and Complexity of Being Alive

The Killers are arguably one of the greatest alternative rock bands of this generation. The Las Vegas four-piece has been creating heart-wrenching, sweeping and iconically anthemic music since 2001, from the ever-popular “Mr. Brightside” to “When You Were Young.” After a long four years since their 4th studio album Battle Born, The Killers are back to their old tricks in Wonderful Wonderful, their latest release that frontman Brandon Flowers has described as the closest thing they’ve done to Sam’s Town.

“Wonderful Wonderful” and “The Man” are both vastly different tracks that start the album off on a pleasantly contrasted note. “Wonderful Wonderful” is moody, majestic, and laden with heavy drumbeats, while “The Man” is an upbeat disco-infused track dripping with masculine confidence. This is what The Killers do best: they can create the most heart-wrenchingly visceral songs, while simultaneously creating nostalgically anthemic new wave and disco ballads.

“Tyson vs. Douglas” is an electro-rock triumph, despite glorifying Mike Tyson, a known rapist. They could have glorified countless other deserving heroes, or even created a nameless metaphor like what they had done with previous songs like ‘Dustland Fairytale.’

Regardless, it’s still a solid track, and Flowers wrote the song inspired by his need to look invincible in his children’s eyes. Samples from the commentary from the infamous boxing match between Tyson and Douglas fade into the track, as a nostalgic electronic keyboard riff ripples throughout the pre-chorus. It’s upbeat at its core, but absolutely tragic lyrically. The pre-chorus builds up to the line, “but you’ll never grow up baby if you don’t look.” The explosive chorus has Flowers bellowing about a child painstakingly watching his invincible hero fall on TV, finally ending with a heavy-handed, “I had to close my eyes just to stop the tears.” It’s hands down one of the most emotionally impactful tracks on Wonderful Wonderful.

The crowning single from this album is “Run for Cover.” It’s an upbeat, fun, electronic rock fusion that sounds exactly like it came straight from Sam’s Town. Flowers has stated that this song has been under wraps for eight years, which would explain why it stands out the most on this latest project. It’s a signature Killers track through and through that exhibits the powerfully anthemic sound that the band has polished and owned throughout their career.

“Some Kind of Love” and “Rut” incorporate a choir for their most emotionally-charged verses and prominent lyrics, giving the album a soft, almost angelic edge between the energetic anthems. “Rut” is inspired by Flowers’ wife, and her struggles with mental illness. It’s a touching and realistic commentary on someone watching and supporting their loved ones through their mental illness. The chorus rings “I’m climbing, but the walls keep stacking up,” which perfectly summarizes the hopelessness one feels with mental illness. But by the time the song hits the bridge, there’s an angelic layered euphony of “I’ll climb and I’ll climb. Oh but don’t you give up on me.” It’s a bittersweet and stunning track at its core.

“Have all the Songs Been Written?” addresses the band’s ambiguous future: Will this be the last Killers album or will there be more? The lyrics are the most poetic on the entire album: “Have all the truths been told? / Has all the gas been siphoned? / Do the banks still carry gold? / Has every ship gone sailing? / Has every heart gone blue?” It features Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, but many fans were disappointed by the lack of a more explosive Knopfler guitar solo after the build up. Many think it was left like that on purpose to show that all the songs have indeed not yet been written. This is especially evident when Flowers ends the track with, “I just need one more,” mid-sentence. It still leaves the band’s future up in the air, but gives listeners the impression that this is a cliffhanger to future projects.

Wonderful Wonderful is bright and optimistic when it needs to be, and just moody enough that it doesn’t bring the rest of the album down. It’s nothing groundbreaking and it leaves a lot of room for experimentation beyond the sound that the band has already honed on Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town. But, overall, The Killers are still the masters at what they do. The band has struggled together in the past, but they never stray from the music for too long. Ultimately, Wonderful Wonderful shows what the band’s future will sound like if they choose to continue: Nostalgic, brilliant, and beautiful.

Rating: A-

Recommended Tracks:
“Wonderful Wonderful”
“Rut”
“Run for Cover”
“Tyson vs. Douglas”
“Have all the Songs Been Written?”

(Featured Image: Island Records)

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