REVIEW: The Killers hit stride with sixth successful album

The album continues The Killers’ legacy of easy, consistent chart-toppers without pushing the envelope.

The Killers’ sixth studio album, “Imploding the Mirage,” opens on a soundscape of ghostly echoes. It doesn’t feel like its familiar 2000s rock until the first track explodes into an earworm of a synth line, morphing into another pop-adjacent crowd pleaser of an album.

Best known for the gritty, sexy party hit “Mr. Brightside,” The Killers came onto the American pop rock scene in 2001 and haven’t looked back with six consecutive chart-topping albums since 2004. Frontman Brandon Flowers and his band hail from Las Vegas and quickly became the most successful group ever to come out of Nevada.

Released on Aug. 21, “Imploding the Mirage” is no exception to the band’s track record of quick success. The album has seen both critical and popular appreciation catering to fans who expect nothing less than the synth-heavy, catchy tunes characteristic of The Killers.

After the album warms up with “My Own Soul’s Warning,” it soars through the quieter, moody “Blowback” and a poppy dance tune in “Dying Breed.” Notably, Flowers relinquishes vocal control to convey emotion and lets his voice soar over the top of the instrumentals, distinctly different from the tight control he holds in such hits as “Human” and “Mr. Brightside.”

Minus its guitarist, Dave Keuning, who went on hiatus in 2017, The Killers’ new album lacks a strong guitar throughout. It instead leans into a synth-pop focus, replacing typical guitar hooks with floaty electronic sound before grounding itself in Flowers’ voice and tight percussive elements. This is especially evident on the lead single, “Caution.” Evolving from an airy unstructured sound into a joyful romp, “Caution” is the song you’ll hear in your head for days after listening to the album.

After “Caution,” “Imploding the Mirage” is a downslide through the final six tracks. “Lightning Fields” features k.d. lang, a Canadian singer-songwriter, but isn’t notable beyond the feature. “Fire in Bone” is perhaps the most experimental track on the album but fails to make the impression Flowers wants. His voice isn’t made for the type of speak-singing the song demands, and it falls flat.

From there, “Running Towards a Place,” “My God” and “When the Dreams Run Dry” blend together, but each aims for a catchy chorus that doesn’t land. To The Killers’ credit, it plays to its own strengths: There isn’t a single ballad on the album, and each track wants to be a pop-rock anthem. These three don’t quite achieve that status, despite singer Weyes Blood’s feature on “My God.”

But the album finishes strong with the title track. “Imploding the Mirage” is an ambitious and rather strange album title, but the song by that name truly conveys the imagery of a mirage in a desert through hollow choral sounds and an upbeat chorus without any of the tension and frantic energy of the rest of the album. Does the song convey much lyrical meaning? Debatable. Flowers’ refrain is “I was imploding the mirage,” which feels a little unpolished. But his vocals are raw and honest, and the track wraps it up cleanly.

The Killers are aging well despite nearly 20 years on the music scene. This sixth album is yet another easy success story. It’s not groundbreakingly different from the band’s past work, but perhaps that similarity is what will score it the most critical and popular appreciation.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

More Stories