The Killers’ new album Battle Born is one of the best I’ve heard in years. The group returns to the sound and insightful lyrics that propelled them to superstar status led by the powerful vocals of Brandon Flowers. Flowers’s solo release two years ago, Flamingo, was an incredibly good album, and this album is just as good or better in a different way. On Flamingo Flowers got more into country music and folk, which he did very well. Battle Born steams full ahead with the kind of electronica, rock energy and deep lyrics that made Sam’s Town and Hot Fuss household collections of some of the best music of the past decade. Blasting power chords, extended cinematic choruses and a kind of grandiose Americana all backed up by Flowers’ unmatched vocals make this the one album you should listen to this year or any year. It’s the first since the band’s break after their “Day and Age” world tour in January, 2010.
For those who find the Killers a bit over dramatic the album might seem to try too hard. But its the earnestness and ultimate simplicity of Battle Born that make it the best album of the year. The lyrics get into some deep subject matter such as Flowers’ vision of America on “Battle Born,” (“I always saw you as a kind of keeper/ mother to a child/ but your boys have grown soft/ And your girls have gone wild/ From the Blue Rigde to the black hills…”), Biblical references interwoven with a kind of advice song, about finding peace and purpose in a chaotic world on “Be Still,” “From Here on Out,” and reminiscing about lost love and its similarity to war of a kind on “Miss Atomic Bomb.” Other standout tracks were “Deadlines and Committments,” “Heart of a Girl,” “Carry me Home,” and “Flesh and Bone” (“what are you afraid of?/and what are you made of/ flesh and bone”). The deluxe version also includes a great remix of “Flesh and Bone.”
Flowers wrote or cowrote all the lyrics on Battle Born and he is a very strong songwriter. From his Latter-day Saints background Flowers draws on a spiritual heritage and a more purpose-driven insight often missing in modern popular music, and it brings so much more to his work. This is music about finding your way and about struggling because it’s worth it. Overall Battle Born has two main sentiments that come through, firstly pushing on through hard and confusing times and secondly taking a more introspective, compassionate look at what makes people who they are and the ties of love and shared experiences that bond us together as individuals and nations.