By Ryan Martin (@RyanMartin182)
If you’re familiar with The Killers, you might know that they have recently released their first album in five years. If you’re not, you might have not even noticed they were gone. Wonderful Wonderful picks up as if they never left, neither improving nor maturing upon their last effort, Battle Born. Wonderful Wonderful does not act as an improvement in The Killers’s discography, but instead, plays the same formula they’ve been following for the past 13 years.
The returning LP opens with the title track, which plays as a grand opening that never really reaches its full potential. It has a feeling of growing tension, almost like the storm that sparked the title of the LP in the first place. This tension does not reach a peak and leaves the listener feeling unsatisfied, bringing you into the explosion of energy in the second track. The Man, the most energetic The Killers have sounded since Day & Age, released almost a decade ago.
Where the Las Vegas band succeed the most is when they sound the most energetic. A few instances prove this throughout Wonderful Wonderful, particularly around the mid-point of the LP. Where The Killers fail the most is when they try to create grand ballads that come off more as a filler track than an album-defining track. Wonderful Wonderful is filled with these, which makes it’s 43-minute run time overstay it’s welcome by the time you’ve reached the outdrawn closer, Have All the Songs Been Written?
Wonderful Wonderful would have sounded better had it been released in 2013, back when Get Lucky by Daft Punk was the biggest song in the world. Maybe then, The Man could have stood as a decent radio single. Almost every element of Wonderful Wonderful sounds incredibly stale in the current genre of indie rock. Making songs like Rut, fueled by front man Brandon Flowers’s distress with trying to help his wife’s PTSD condition, feel passionless. Like Rut, most of the songs off Wonderful Wonderful try to sound like the grand stadium-closer track that electrifies the crowd, and instead sound like the deep cut off their new album that nobody knows the words too.
Battle Born, The Killers’s last LP released in 2012, had similar flaws. The energetic songs didn’t have the same kick that early Killers tracks had, and most of the ballads didn’t feel genuine enough. Still, Battle Born had few exceptions, like Miss Atomic Bomb, and Be Still, that while they weren’t the best songs The Killers had written, they were sticky enough to be included in their Greatest Hits compilation, released the following year. There are maybe two songs off Wonderful Wonderful’s 10-song track listing that feel genuine enough to be revisited. At this point, one may wonder if The Killers’s legacy is becoming more tainted with every studio release.
The Killers lack a certain element that makes their songs sound as grand as they want them to sound. What made songs on Hot Fuss sound as exciting and fresh as they did at the time, and endless revisable as they do today, has been poorly executed throughout their following studio albums. Wonderful Wonderful, not acting as an exception, but further proving the point that The Killers are not as great as you would like them to be.