The Killers are a conundrum. I really shouldn’t like this band. They are influenced by bands I do not love like The Smiths and The Cure and some bands I really do not like, like Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode.
Lead singer Brandon Flowers is all bombast and sequinned shoulder pads with feathers! That K on the stage is all light bulbed up. The last time I saw kitsch like that I was driving down the main strip of Vegas with my mates Dave and Dave.
It should not work, at least for me. Yet, it so does. These guys are so intoxicatingly good. Imploding The Mirage is a great surge of a stadium sound, almost from beginning to end. Your ears and heart and soul ride a tidal wave of big brash songs.
It should not work. Yet, it so does. Why? I have been asking that as I have played this record over and over again and I think I might have my personal answer.
Below the the synthed up 80s sounds, the bombast and Vegas kitsch is Brandon Flowers songwriting brilliance. First, he has these melodies. They are utterly crash bang catchy.
On top this melodic bounce Flowers is simply an excellent lyricist. I love how clever he is, conjuring words and rhymes.
Then, as well as the melody and poetry Brandon Flowers adds soul. Soul is about feeling deep down. It is when the song reaches in and touches you deep. It is when the band are not just playing but creating and drilling far enough down to strike the emotional and for me best of all, the spiritual. This is what shifts the names in reviews from Pet Shop Boys to Bruce Springsteen!
Imploding The Mirage is spiritually drenched. The opening My Own Soul’s Warning is worth the entrance price alone:
If you could see through the banner of the sun
Into eternity's eyes, like a vision reaching down to you
Would you turn away
What if it knew you by your name
What kind of words would cut through the clutter of the whirlwind of these days
Flowers calls it a song of repentance.
That whirlwind is on the cover painting Thomas Blackshear’s Dance Of The Wind and Storm which the band says influenced the choice of songs. The painting and the record seem to me about finding the eternal in the midst of the world’s clutter.
Fire In Bone is a wonderful retelling of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son:
When I came back empty-handed
You were waiting in the road
And you fell on my neck
And you took me back home
After all that I took from you
After all that I put you through
Here I am”
Running Towards a Place is says that perfect. A song of eternity but seeking to not have to wait to find all the wonder. He’s not the first rock star to quote William Blake:
Can you see the world
In a grain of sand?
Can you find heaven in a wildflower
Hold it in the palm of your hand?
The moment we met
Because we're running towards a place
Where we'll walk as one
And the sadness of this life
Will be overcome
Flowers is a Mormon and I am a Presbyterian but I have never heard any of his spiritual utterances that I cannot embrace. The nature of the sound that The Killers make gives a spiritual exuberance like U2 created way back on October. It make the music so hopeful.
As I listen to Imploding The Mirage I wonder if it stands up alongside Hot Fuss. I think over time that it might. For me there was dip to Battle Born and then the graph rises again and all of these ten songs might be pushing for places in the live set list for some time to come.
It is all very signature The Killers. Yet to add tweaks there is War On Drugs, Weyes Blood and even KD Lang and Lindsay Buckingham adding breadth and other hues to the unbroken formula of 16 years.