Monday, 25 September 2017
Leaving Las Vegas.
Neon lights read "Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" in the rearview of a Mustang riding towards the desert. That's right The Killers are leaving Sin City and all their troubles behind. Splits, personal problems at home and band counselling. And as they roll away like the last dice off the strip they see all their bright lights inbetween the big cities attractions, from the Monte Carlo and fountains of the Bellagio, to the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty like they had Paris, Egypt, Italy and New York in the same city. From the skyline shine of their 'Hot Fuss' debut which had more hit single classics in the first few tracks then most bands have in their entire careers, to the sophomore star 'Sams Town' and the neon future of 'Day & Age' that asked if we were human or dancer. But after lead singer Brandon Flowers went out on his own with the native 'Flamingo' that really welcomed us to the red or black heart of this luck be a lady casino town (following his solo debut with the 80's revival of 'The Desired Effect' two years back), The Killers looked primed for a change. And the Springsteen inspiration fuelled 'Battle Born' (perhaps their deepest and desert at night darkest best yet) saw them hit the road for a new heartland sound, leaving their 'Direct Hits' in a compilation next exit as they thunder road gunned for their own 'Shot At The Night'. Now unbelievably a half decade later the band that gift us with a new Christmas song every end of year are back before the fall with something 'Wonderful, Wonderful'. And even a million miles away from the pink flamingo's, Brandon Flowers is still 'The Man'.
And with lyrics like "I got gas in the tank/I got money in the bank/I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man/I got skin in the game/I got a household name/I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man" in a video where Flowers plays a vest, grill and shotgun trailer park boy, a woman on each arm suited and booted socialite, a rhinestone cowboy riding a Cadillac, an Elvis glitter glam in the talent contest of a dive bar wannabe star and an Evil Knievel like motorbike stuntman what more could you expect. The Killers can still make a killing. Even if for the first time their name and iconic spotlight logo isn't front and center on their album cover. But hold the desert shell to your ear and you'll hear one of this leather and white tee bands best and biggest hits for the jukebox yet. And it all sounds so dynamite, dynamically different, between hallmark couplets and Bowie homages that call back to their 'Spaceman' age. And if you thought it ended their with big, bold and bright new singles that really are that then you better 'Run For Cover' from the rip-roaring guitars of their stadium rocking follow up with rolling Flowers in vocal bloom. "I saw Sonny Liston on the street last night/Black-fisted and strong singing Redemption Song/He motioned me to the sky/I heard heaven and thunder cry/Run for cover/Run while you can, baby, don't look back/You gotta run for cover/Don't be afraid of the fear, that's a played out trap, man/You know you're not the only one/And don't look back, just run for cover" Brandon sings. But it's not the only knockout pugilist reference the singer/songwriter boxes clever with.
Aiming to be the greatest like Ali in a town all too familiar with the belt or ropes, make or break nature of life that can either leave you with a clenched fist to the sky or a black and blue eye for your purple heart, Flowers looks back at his own adolescent mortality and validity of his youthful dreams that he never knew would come this true on 'Tyson vs Douglas'. Thinking Iron Mike couldn't be beat he laments, "You can change the channel, take the phone off the hook/Avoid the headlines, but you'll never grow up, baby, if you don't look/I had to hold my breath 'til the coast was clear/When I saw him go down/Felt like somebody lied/I had to close my eyes just to stop the tears" as the man who went from heavyweight to 'Hangover' movies hit the canvas. The Killers frontman alive with back against the wall aspiration even tries to impress his wife on the classic love song 'Out Of My Mind' with rock God hero references, talking about The King like The Boss did. "I stormed the gates of Graceland/To make you realize/Went back to back with Springsteen/You turned and rolled your eyes/So I told you about McCartney/And that's a heavy name to drop/You say you don't need confirmation/But I don't know if I can stop". But even caught between a rock and a deserted place, Flowers still has the will and the way his heartland music promises in close your eyes and hope to fly faith as he sings, "I'll climb, I'll climb" again and again in religious like call and response. Just like this L.P.'s standout title track back and forth cries of resolution to the "motherless child' which offers faith from this Mormon preacher in the same vein as 'Battle Born's' 'Deadlines and Commitments'. Holy Ghost evoking forgiveness and redemption echo through this album as par for this bands course. From the "call my name" relationship reliability of 'Life To Come' to the welcome Hollywood star Woody Harrelson opening scripture introduction of 'The Calling'. These top ten tracks from The Killers with no filler really belong with the best of the rest even if calling critics believe this isn't the groups most powerful project. But from the singles to the deep album cuts like the atmospheric 'Some Kind Of Love' it's hard to pick the best from this beautiful bunch from Flowers...that is until you get to the end. Where Brandon and his band of brothers search for more in their backpocket with 'Have All The Songs Been Written'? And judging from lines like, "Have all the songs been written/Have all the truths been told/Has all the gas been siphoned/Do the banks still carry gold/Has every ship gone sailing/Has every heart gone blue/Have all the songs been written/Oh, I just need one to get through to you/I just need one more", it looks like they really do have one too. And plenty more wonderful ones left in the tank as they tune their car radio in. For this band on the run there's still plenty of roads left to take. TIM DAVID HARVEY.