MR|Review – The Killers, “Battle Born”

What if this was a debut record?

I’d say the band has good arena pop chops, and maybe a touch too much love for some kind of indefinite ’70s FM sound, but at least a sense of humor and panache enough to pull it off.

In 2012, though, this is a Killers record and unfortunately, it’s the Diet Coke of Sam’s Age.  The individual tracks are pleasant reminders of what the Killers, and Big Rock Music, used to be, but the sum is less than its parts.  Some good (!) lyrics (“Don’t break character … ,” “Hey, from here on out, friends are going to be hard to come by … “) notwithstanding, I can only admit – as a person who tends to give bands’ late-period albums the benefit of the doubt! (see U2 since Achtung Baby, Foo Fighters between The Colour and The Shape and Wasting Light, and Chicago after III) – that Battle Born is a disappointment.

What can the firm of Flowers, Keuning, Vannucci, Flowers, Stoermer, and Flowers do?  Something fresh (“Daddy’s Eyes,” “Move Away,” and “Sweet Talk” from Sawdust hinted at possible directions), or at least go back to “Human,” their last forward-looking single, and pick up from there.  Shake it up: write and record an album quick, on the road, head to Berlin, bring in a collaborator (Jacques Lu Cont, who remixed “Flesh and Bone,” might be a place to start), make up a rule (no sounds that could be described in reference to Springsteen, for example).  Change.  References get stale.  I still believe in the old magic, and that the Killers can conjure it again, maybe in time for the 10th anniversary of Hot Fuss

… or, maybe on Letterman, a few days after I drafted this review.  Battle Born earned another spin that night.  This record’s going to sound great on tour (“Deadlines and Commitments” has a huge, Gabriel-sounding vibe), but stick to “Runaways,” “Miss Atomic Bomb,” and “A Matter of Time” for your library.  I’m skipping this one, but I’ll give it two stars instead of one because I know I’m probably crankier than the average Victim.

MR|Review directs readers’ limited attention among works via ratings, and within works via prose, focusing on works where our opinion diverges from critical or popular consensus, or we have significant insight that compliments or challenges readers’ aesthetic experience. MR|Review totals to date:
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Owww! My ears! 0