Mitt Romney not the only Mormon doubling down… and losing
Back in 2006 Brandon Flowers (hopefully) half-jokingly mentioned the Killers were recording “the best album of the last 20 years,” and it was to be called Sam’s Town, so-named after a born-to-lose dive bar in Vegas, and let’s just say it wasn’t on the strip.
Sam’s Town wasn’t even the best album of 2006, not by a long shot. But it did mark a turning point for the band that, for better and worse, appears to have been permanent on the evidence of Battle Born, their fourth release.
Flowers has always been drawn to kitsch as a bear is to honey, but here he leaves no Meat Loaf cliche uncovered. ”Not sure how this natural selection picked me out to be a dark horse running in a fantasy,” he sings beautifully on “Flesh and Bone” with the innocent conviction of someone who doesn’t know any better.
The problem is they’ve already mined this territory with more novel results. Battle Born sounds like the offspring of Sam’s Town and Day and Age without the soaring heights of “Dustland Fairytale,” “Read My Mind” or the self-awareness of “Losing Touch.” Instead, we get closing-credits fodder like “Miss Atomic Bomb” and “Here with Me,” replete with synthesizers that probably should’ve stayed in 1986.
And yet, there’s something compelling about their stubborn resolve to exist outside of any contemporary context and continue mining their glitter-in-the-gutter ethos. They’re precisely the kind of lost cause Werner Herzog would take a shining to. Maybe next time they’ll transcend empty pastiche.