Re­view: The Killers re­turn with com­plex, bril­liant angst

“WON­DER­FUL WON­DER­FUL” (Is­land)

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Content - Mark Kennedy AP En­ter­tain­ment Writer

Don’t be fooled by the ti­tle of The Killers’ lat­est CD. Things aren’t “Won­der­ful” — much less “Won­der­ful Won­der­ful.” This may be the most mis­lead­ing al­bum ti­tle since Pink Floyd’s “A Col­lec­tion of Great Dance Songs.”

What the long-awaited fol­low-up to “Bat­tle Born” is turns out to be a rich, com­plex mu­si­cal work riven by lyrics about in­se­cu­rity and vul­ner­a­bil­ity. It’s a 10-track med­i­ta­tion on the dread of mod­ern life and the anx­i­ety of mas­culin­ity. It’s won­der­fully, won­der­fully dark.

Five years af­ter the Las Ve­gas-based band’s last out­ing, lead singer Bran­don Flow­ers isn’t afraid to show weak­ness, whether it’s mock­ing his gen­der in the ter­rif­i­cally ironic and strut­ting “The Man” or ex­press­ing his frus­tra­tion at con­nect­ing to a loved one: “I’m climb­ing but the walls keep stack­ing up” he sings in “Rut.”

“Won­der­ful Won­der­ful ,” pro­duced by Jack­nife Lee, who’s worked with U2, Weezer and R.E.M., finds The Killers ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent sounds, from straigh­ta­head rock to synth-led, New Wave-ish elec­tron­ica and U2-like jan­gly gui­tars. There seems to be some­thing in­ter­est­ing go­ing on in every song.

The al­bum opens with the dis­con­cert­ing and dis­cor­dant ti­tle song about a moth­er­less child that’s men­ac­ing and eerie. In “Tyson Vs Dou­glas,” Flow­ers re­counts what it was like to be a child in tears watch­ing his box­ing hero col­lapse and fears he, too, will one day fail his chil­dren. The al­bum fre­quently re­turns to box­ing and moth­ers — twin im­ages of force and love.

“Run for Cover” — a driv­ing, clas­sic­sound­ing Killers tune — ex­poses the hypocrisy of men in power, while the twangy, foot-stom­per “The Call­ing” — nar­rated by Woody Har­rel­son, no less — con­tin­ues that theme in a re­li­gious way. “Lie, cheat, steal — hope they fix it up in post,” Flow­ers sings.

Even the more up­beat songs — like the spacy, dreamy “Some Kind of Love” and the synth-heavy, poppy “Out of My Mind” — are tugged down to Earth by lines like “Can’t do this alone” and “Oh, we’re fall­ing.”

The last song — and per­haps the weak­est — is an an­guished cry from Flow­ers that per­fectly cap­tures his angst in 2017. “Have All the Songs Been Writ­ten” is a sad plea about im­po­tency — both creative, as in writer’s block, and emo­tional. “Have all these years been worth it?” Flow­ers asks.

They have if you get “Won­der­ful Won­der­ful.”

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