You don’t want to be lazy when listening to The Killers. Wonderful Wonderful comes across with immediate surface glitter and gloss. It is all shiny, pop ridden rock and the lead off single The Man comes across all menacing funk with arrogant strut.
A wee bit of attention and there is so much more to hear. I have been looking at that single, that I hated on first listen, as a follow up to the conversation they started on their prophetically challenging single Human back in 2008.
In Human The Killers interrogate our modern society with the ultimate question, who are we as human beings? “Are we human, or are we dancer?” The Man is a dancer and the whole of Wonderful Wonderful could be seen as an exploration of the things that get in the way of our humanhood.
There’s a lot of brokenness on Wonderful Wonderful. Singer Brandon Flowers’ wife has been going through depression and it makes these songs vulnerable and raw, no more so than when the Flowers children sing “Can't do this alone/We need you at home” on the Brian Eno co-write Some Kind Of Love, maybe my favourite song on the record.
Rut is written specifically about Flowers’ wife, from her perspective:
“Can't keep my mind off of every little wrong
I see the mouths are open, but I can't hear the song
I've done my best to fill 'em, but the cracks are starting to spread
Hey I won't blame you baby, go on turn your head”
In Life To Come, Flowers suggests maybe to his wife, himself or all of us - “Just drop kick the shame”.
The Calling is be the song of redemption here or at least the invitation of it. Starting out with Woody Harrelson reading The Gospel According To Matthew’s like an old style preacher the song, with a tough guitar groove, is about a son seeking redemption for his father. There’s more of the barriers we all have to being fully human but God seems to be calling to some fixing:
"But Daddy did you think that you could outrun the Holy Spirit (here come the calling)
Lie, cheat, steal, hope they fix it all up in post"
Influenced by a painting of Caravaggio that is called The Calling of St Matthew we get a hint at where salvation might come:
“Follow the sun out of the night
Brother, just lean into the light
You wanna be sure, I’ll give you sight
Brother, just lean into the light.”
Personally I prefer the second half of Wonderful Wonderful. In the last 5 or 6 songs The Killers sound light on the ear but ring truth around the depths of your soul.