(Island Def Jam)
In terms of rock and roll, the 1950’s had Elvis, the 60’s saw the British Invasion and in the 70’s and 80’s there was arena rock, punk rock and metal. Even the 90’s had Kurt Cobain. So what did my generation get? We got Kanye West and Justin Bieber. Great. Rock on.
But despite the fact that we may not have a huge range of top 40 rock and roll artists from which to choose right now, we did manage to get a few winners—The Black Keys, Jack White and The Killers. Even though all three of these acts don’t exactly fit into the current popular music landscape and all seem to revolve in their own little slightly throwback-y worlds, they are still creating new music that people love.
The Killers’ new album, Battle Born, while still sounding current, digs deeply into the past, pulling influences from AC/DC (check out the lightning bolt on the cover) and Springsteen to Lou Reed, Tom Petty and even Elvis. It’s been nearly four years since their last studio album and while the entire album itself is far too long and starts to become indecipherable and maybe a bit bland in the middle, there are numerous tracks that I would say qualify as some of their best work.
“Flesh and Bone,” the first song on the album, is absolutely gorgeous and showcases everything that is wonderful about this band. Although I love frontman Brandon Flowers’ Broadway-tinged voice alone (I’d be satisfied with listening to him sing the words from a DVD player instruction manual), the swelling synths, Brian May-quality guitar work and lyrics make the song even more fantastic.
“I’m not sure how this natural selection picked me out to be a dark horse running in a fantasy,” Flowers sings against the sound of swelling, full-bodied synths that will make you smile. There’s always maybe a hit of cheese in every one of their songs, but I think that’s why people love them so much. The Killers don’t take themselves too seriously. They manage to have fun and create songs that they know will sound great live. That’s why I love them, I suppose.
“From Here on Out” I would describe as that one, random song the band throws onto each of their albums that totally doesn’t fit in at all, but is a fantastic song nonetheless. The song, which has an Eagles or Tom Petty 70’s southern rock vibe, is ridiculously fun and catchy. Then there is “Runaways,” the first single from the album, which is another great song. The melodramatic Bon Jovi kind of lyrics about fighting for love and confessing dreams under a start-lit sky might be too much for some listeners. But again, with the huge 80’s guitar riffs, keys and driving drums, I think it works perfectly.
Maybe my generation didn’t get ripped off after all. We might not have as many options of rock records now as there were 30 years ago, but with albums like Battle Born that might not matter so much.
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