Legendary Las Vegas alt-rock kings The Killers are back with their fifth studio album, after five years of absence. Wonderful, Wonderful came to fruition in October 2015, with its eventual release last month on September 22nd.
The Killers re-emergence couldn’t be more needed; their distinctive outlook and funk-infused alternative rock offers a fresh take on American life and politics, in contrast to Green Day’s Revolution Radio, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway and Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold.
Wonderful, Wonderful’s overarching sense of urgency reveals itself as a message; to be honest, to listen, to fight for individual strength and to remain optimistic in times of trouble. Beginning with the title track, ‘Wonderful, Wonderful’ sets the groovy, 70s funk vibe that carries the entirety of the record. Pounding, tribal drums and a captivating bass line underlie the almost biblical lyrics that urge us to “Keep [our] ears to the shell” and to follow the path to rescue; especially in the current political climate in the U.S.
Leading single ‘The Man’ is, dare I say it, greater than ‘Mr. Brightside’. Sampling the classic 1975 Kool & The Gang ‘Spirit of the Boogie’, the track combines a variety of genres and instrumental influences from other musicians, such as a Queens of the Stone Age guitar lick cemented with the 70s, Bee Gees disco feel. The suave confidence emitted by lead vocalist Brandon Flowers is infectious, combining a unique cadence (stuttering on “nothing” and the punchy “USDA certified lean”) and enthralling hooks makes ‘The Man’ so enjoyable, addictive and different.
‘Rut’ and ‘Life to Come’ sit on the common synth-pop/electronica theme, but both portray themselves as emotional albeit upbeat ballads. Wonderful, Wonderful then erupts with the politically (or Trump-ly) infused track ‘Run for Cover’.
Blatantly written about the Trump presidency, obsessions with fake news, excuses consistently made by governmental staff and how a reality star became the leader of the free world (“It’s hard to pack the car when all you do is shame us / It’s even harder when the dirtbag’s famous”). The dire situation presented to the American public is echoed in the guitars and vocals, harnessing the atmospheric break mid-song to catch your breath.
‘Tyson vs Douglas’ takes a strange turn with a focus on a famed fight between boxers Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas in 1990. After the rapidness of both tracks, the seventh track of Wonderful, Wonderful, ‘Some Kind of Love’ slows the journey to a beautiful lull. A soft, gentle piano melody alongside a familiar, Peter Gabriel-esce bass effect gives us a Brian Eno-inspired track that feels incredibly sincere.
‘Out of My Mind’ picks the speed back up, whilst retaining integrity from the track preceding it. The track veers back towards the 80s synth foundation that runs deep through the record; exploring the newly recognized vapourwave genre, even name-dropping the greats Bruce Springsteen, Elvis and Paul McCartney.
The Killers close their fifth album with ‘The Calling’ and ‘Have All the Songs Been Written?’; two beautifully written tracks that explore religiously questioning and the choice between optimism and pessimism.
Overall, Wonderful, Wonderful is a refreshing return to The Killers distinct sound after five years of absence. Deeply personal and inquisitive, The Killers create a collection of ten intimate tracks that will become synonymous with the band for years to come.
Words by Sophie McEvoy