Say it with Flow­ers

An al­bum on which band leader Bran­don Flow­ers bares him­self more than ever be­fore

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The Killers

Won­der­ful Won­der­ful ★★★★ The Ti­tle fight be­tween Mike

Tyson and Buster

Dou­glas that the stand­out track from

The Killers’ fifth al­bum is named af­ter was one of box­ing’s most leg­endary up­sets, in which a 42-1 out­sider KO’D the self-styled ‘Bad­dest Man on the Planet’ to be­come heavy­weight cham­pion of the world. You might as­sume – given Bran­don flow­ers’ well-doc­u­mented love of one-horse towns, dust­land fairy­tales and Amer­i­can dream­ers – that ‘Tyson vs Dou­glas’ would be writ­ten from the un­der­dog’s per­spec­tive, punch­ing up, but in fact it’s the op­po­site: the song is about the fear of his own kids see­ing him knocked down and usurped, just like iron Mike was on that fate­ful night in Tokyo. heavy lies the crown, but flow­ers still guards it jeal­ously.

As well he might: The Killers’ as­cent to the top of the pile didn’t hap­pen eas­ily, or by ac­ci­dent. in the five years since their last al­bum, flow­ers has had to deal with chronic writer’s block (see the med­i­ta­tive ‘have All The Songs Been Writ­ten?’), the de­ci­sion of two of his band­mates to in ef­fect re­tire from tour­ing and his wife Tana’s on­go­ing strug­gles with PTSD. You can un­der­stand, then, why lead sin­gle ‘The Man’ – for all its puff-chested front of white-funk in­vul­ner­a­bil­ity – has some fun at the ex­pense of flow­ers’ younger, more cock­sure self, who pre­sum­ably imag­ined that real life wasn’t some­thing he’d ever have to worry about once he saw off The Brav­ery.

The rest of ‘Won­der­ful Won­der­ful’ makes it clear that isn’t the case. The ti­tle track, sprouted from the same gnarled root as their 2007 lou Reed col­lab­o­ra­tion ‘Tran­quil­lize’, is a des­per­ate call to his wife to “stay on the path that leads to the well”, while the self­ex­plana­tory ‘Rut’ has to claw its way out of list­less­ness to reach its eu­phoric peak. else­where, flow­ers’ faith is fore­grounded to an un­usual de­gree – the ac­tor Woody har­rel­son pops up to in­tro­duce the swampy dis­corock of ‘The Call­ing’ with a read­ing from the Book of Matthew, while ‘life To Come’ is a U2-sized arena-shaker about how mar­riage isn’t just for this life but the next one, too.

As a song­writer, flow­ers has never been par­tic­u­larly guarded about him­self – he’s neu­rotic, driven, sen­ti­men­tal and some­times corny – but he bares more on ‘Won­der­ful Won­der­ful’ than ever be­fore, and the re­sult is the band’s best al­bum since 2006’s ‘Sam’s Town’. it might get lonely at the top, but The Killers aren’t go­ing any­where just yet. Barry Nicol­son

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