It’s been five long years since the last Killers album was released, but the drought finally ended on Sept. 22 when their fifth studio album “Wonderful Wonderful” was delivered into the world. Many tears of joy have been shed over this beauty that humanity can now hold in their hands and flood their eardrums with, but as with most albums, the tears of joy have been accompanied with some feelings of frustration and unmet expectations.
Let’s just get the biggest frustration out of the way: if you want to go and see The Killers in concert for their Wonderful Wonderful tour in January next year, you’ll only get half of what you’re paying for because only two out of the four original members will be touring. Sadly, bass player Mark Stoermer and guitarist Dave Keuning are opting out for this one to stay home, choosing to spend time with family and work on their own individual pursuits. This leaves frontman Brandon Flowers and drummer Ronnie Vannucci to hit the road as a twosome, along with a fill-in guitarist, bass player and a few back up singers.
Despite that drawback, everything else about the album is, well, wonderful. Every song on it sounds so different, from the dark minor key title track “Wonderful Wonderful” to the upbeat synth pop tune “Out of my Head” to the classic fast rock anthem “Run for Cover” to a quiet reflective pace in “Have All the Songs Been Written?”.
While the songs cover a vast range of different sounds, the album as a whole has all the key elements that every Killers album to date has delivered: lots of synth, driving guitar lines with soaring solo riffs sprinkled in, some showcasing the bass (especially in the darker, minor key songs) and of course Flowers’ iconic vocals.
While the album’s sound is genuine to The Killers through and through, a few twists from outsiders were added in to broaden its horizons. On recommendation from U2 frontman Bono, The Killers brought in Jacknife Lee to be their producer. Lee has worked with a variety of artists in the past such as The Cars, U2, R.E.M. and Weezer. Other contributors to the album include Dire Straits’ lead guitarist Mark Knoppfler, whose guitar can be heard in “Have All the Songs Been Written?”, and Brian Eno, whose song “An Ending (ascent)” was borrowed from to provide the melody for “Some Kind of Love.”
Probably the biggest inspiration for many of the songs on the album comes from Flowers’ wife, Tana Flowers. The singer’s wife and mother of three has been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, stemming from a rough childhood, when her mother abandoned her.
Flowers cut a solo tour in 2015 short and went home when Tana started having suicidal thoughts. To cope with his wife’s mental illness and the strain it put on their marriage, Flowers wrote songs such as “Wonderful Wonderful,” “Life to Come,” “Some Kind of Love” and “Out of My Head,” all dedicated to her.
The most moving song of the whole album has to be “Some Kind of Love,” in which Flowers’ sons, aged 6, 7 and 9, sing with their dad to their mom, saying, “Can’t do this alone / We need you at home / There’s so much to see / We know that you’re strong.” I recommend having a box of tissues nearby to listen to that one.
Not all of the songs on the album are quite so heavy. The first single released over the summer from the album is called “The Man,” a funky dance tune where Flowers channels his inner macho man, singing, “Who’s the man? I’m the man.” It’s a good song to listen to on days when you’re feeling particularly good about yourself and you want a song that matches your mood.
When all's said and done, the new album “Wonderful Wonderful” is chock-full of all natural 100 percent organic Killers songs that are pleasing to the ears and nutritious for the soul. This is definitely one to keep on your Spotify playlist and listen to until it becomes the soundtrack of your 2017-18 school year. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.