Wonderful Wonderful sees The Killers return after five years looking to make amends for a long and drawn out fourth album that lead singer Brandon Flowers called “not good enough”. And in many ways, it does this. Every bit as epic as 2012’s Battleborn, Wonderful Wonderful even attempts to showcase some evolution via variation in the band’s style that has been a long time coming. Whilst being different, Wonderful also manages to fizz and pop with the same ecstatic clang of synth and guitar that has become so synonymous with the band. Sonic and smooth in texture, even broody at times, the record does falter at stages with a couple of fillers tracks but these low points are more than cancelled out by some stunning individual tracks in an altogether beautifully produced LP.
First up is the albums titular track, a dark, almost angry affair which sees a looping bass line throughout and bombastic drums that work together to create a fierce, powerful electricity that pulses throughout the song. Screeching woodwinds also make an entrance towards the end of the track, in a moment of experimentation not too dissimilar from the steel drums and harpsichords used on 2008’s Day & Age. With “Wonderful Wonderful” the band makes it clear from the outset that this time around they aren’t willing to confine themselves to the upbeat and breezy affairs of which they are usually concerned with.
“Its modern revamp has shades of contemporary funk experts Daft Punk”
The album’s refusal to stick with the same Killers’ mould continues with the its lead single, the irresistibly groovy “The Man”. A self-conscious tongue in cheek effort by Flowers to poke fun at the strut and cockiness of a man in his 20s as well as take a meta glance at his own all-encompassing stage persona throughout the band’s history, “The Man” is a song that knows just how good it is. Here we see The Killers sampling Kool and the Gang’s “Spirit of the Boogie” and the influence is evident far beyond just the tracks’ funky bass line, that in its modern revamp has shades of contemporary funk experts Daft Punk.
Next the band take a slower approach with the robotic ballad “Rut”. Written for Flower’s wife who suffers with PTSD, the tune incorporates delicate piano chords laid over a smooth synth base before building to a typically anthemic finish that was clearly tailor made to close out a few stadiums on the albums’ upcoming tour. Similarly, the following track “Life To Come” is another synth led anthem with U2 esque guitars willingly spinning away in the background.
“A classic Killers track with all the energy and breezy pop instinct we expect from them”
This slower pace is however soon interrupted by “Run For Cover”, a classic Killers track with all the energy and breezy pop instinct we expect from them. A ready-made single, the rapid mile-a-minute nature of the music is juxtaposed against bleak and distrustful lyrics that at one-point even touch a little on the topical side, cheekily dropping the phrase “fake news” into a verse.
Flowers and the gang take another trip into the real world with the track “Tyson vs. Douglas”, the song fading in with commentary from the famous 1990 shock fight. Exhibiting an 80s tinge to it, a key aspect of the Killers signature sound, the track builds to a truly huge chorus that details Flowers’ own fears about “going down” from the top like Tyson.
“Some Kind of Love” follows, another brilliantly delicate sonic ballad that, borrowing a chord progression from Brian Eno’s “An Ending”, paired with a slow looping beat and a precise nonchalant riff, is the second track dedicated to Flowers’ wife.
“The album begins to sag somewhat towards the end”
The album begins to sag somewhat towards the end, with two less interesting fillers tracks, the first of which “Out Of My Mind”, is a confused number that zaps different electric pulses around some funky guitar licks and repetitious lyrics. This is followed by “The Calling”, a punchy mediation on religion and the lives of those that fall rightly or wrongly into its clutches, its best part is the spoken word bible reading by Woody Harrelson that precedes it.
The record is closed out however by the much better, “Have All The Songs Been Written?” a sonically spacious finale that sees Flower’s, inspired by a bout of writers-block, preaching, over gospel like chords, a retrospective sermon both personally and musically, before intensifying into a solid and anthemic album closer with echoing drums, much the way it started.
“It effortlessly succeeds in improving on their previous effort”
As good a fifth album as most bands manage to achieve, Wonderful Wonderful contains some stellar moments such as “Tyson vs. Douglas” and “The Man” that are good enough to compete with the very best Killers songs. Additionally, it effortlessly succeeds in improving on their previous effort with a much tighter and musically diverse end product. And while, after such gems as Day & Age and their debut Hot Fuss, it might not be enough to convince fans it’s their best record, even at the worst of times it manages to stay quite impressive.
Image Courtesy of The Killers Official Webpage.