In 2012, Las Vegas locals The Killers released Battle Born, an album which didn’t quite meet the quality their previous albums possessed. This album preceded a five-year hiatus for the band. During that time, Brandon Flowers, the lead singer, branched off to release music of his own for a solo career. Flowers has stated that he didn’t expect the break to be so long, making the album itself actually overdue. However, it doesn’t feel like five years made much of a difference for their fifth LP, Wonderful Wonderful. The Killers are a very above-average band; they hit just above the mark that everyone else has set, yet they do so in a rather predictable way.
Wonderful Wonderful is exactly what you would expect from The Killers. It feels like a part two of Sam’s Town, but with a more mature sound. It is possible some of the songs have been recycled and used for this album. There is an ambience on the album that seems very familiar, yet comforting.
The album starts with horns and a very strong introductory bass solo, which is rather impressive because it is hard to start a song with an isolated bassline. The only other song which has been able to affectively accomplish this was the White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army.” “The Man,” their first single released off this album, is one of the stronger songs on the album. Though it is a typical The Killers song, it is everything they do well. It’s a regular 80’s electro-pop retro dance song with a lot of organized noise.
This album, as a whole, seems more personal than anything The Killers have ever done, which is probably because of the hiatus and Flowers’ solo career. For example, “Rut” is a very personal song for the band. The personal touch of this new album is probably the only evident sign of change and growth when compared to previous work.
There were a few other high points on the album like “Run for Cover” and “Some Kind of Love.” “Run for Cover” has been the most anticipated song since it was nine years in the making. It had extremely personal lyrics, very strong guitar parts and had beautiful echoed harmonies. The bridge stuck out as the strongest aspect of the song. However, “Some Kind of Love” is a very beautiful, breathtaking song as well. It is simple in the best possible way. The reverb on Flowers’ voice complimented the piano and synth very well and gave the song a soothing atmosphere. It slightly reminded me of “Andy, You’re a Star:” very simple, yet powerful all the same.
Apart from those songs, the rest of the album blends together, resulting in a very redundant sound. “Life to Come,” “Tyson and Douglas,” “Out of My Mind” and “Have All the Songs Been Written?” have the same kind of sound, it almost seemed rather boring after a while. They all start off with a slower vibe and then have a power chorus. After the midway point of the album I wanted something that seemed new or out of The Killers’ comfort zone.
There were two other songs which I felt added more dimension to the album: “The Calling” and “Money On Straight.” “The Calling” felt very rhythmic and really emphasized the downbeat. There was a lot of contrast with hushed breaks and loud choruses. As for “Money On Straight,” it is not on the regular album, but rather the deluxe edition. I decided to throw it in on the review because it had something I felt the rest of the album lacked, which is acoustic guitar backed by synths. It still screamed The Killers, but it still felt a little different.
Wonderful Wonderful, as a whole, is an album you would expect from The Killers: a few hits, one or two that fall below the mark and filler songs. It is an album that is slightly above average, but does prove to be one of their better albums. I felt the growth in the songwriting was much stronger than past, but the sound is a little stereotypical with only a few risks (which paid off and saved the album). I wish after almost five years The Killers would have tried to evolve and reinvent their sound more and try something new, but most of the songs could have appeared next to the likes of “Read My Mind” or “When You Were Young.”
– Ashley Gallagher