The Killers – Imploding The Mirage
Americana | Indie Rock
For a long time The Killers were a band that was as American as apple pie – by which I mean, not really American at all. Their sound captured little of the spirit of their dustbowl upbringing, instead opting to immerse themselves in all the post punk and new wave originating on our side of the Atlantic. Absorbing their influences through osmosis and repackaging them into highly concentrated indie dancefloor anthems. It was UK audiences that made them a household name. To say their work in the 2000s was enough to earn them honorary British citizenship would be a massive understatement; ‘Mr Brightside’ has become our unofficial national anthem, and I don’t think it’s even left the charts since it released all the way back in 2004.
Throughout the course of the 2010s however, the band have sought to rediscover their roots with varying degrees of success. Battle Born consistently delivered a slick and polished synth driven Americana sound channeling the likes of Tom Petty, although very much playing it safe with their new style, for the most part lacking the fire of their older work. By contrast 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful took almost an opposite “do or die” approach. Consistency was out the window and there were plenty of moments when it stumbled, but when things worked they really worked. Shimmering rhinestones and flashy Vegas showmanship strutted its way alongside electrifying driving anthems custom built for tearing up the open road.
Imploding The Mirage, eyebrow raising title aside, manages to bring everything together. I’m a big fan of albums with purpose, albums where it feels like the songs belong together, and this release definitely ticks that box for me. There’s an ever present expansive atmosphere that ties it all together. The rolling clouds on the cover do a great job at capturing the feel of the record. At times it’s light and pillowy, drifting by like a daydream, but when you rise above to see some vast Elysian cathedral aglow in the setting sun, suddenly you feel invincible. Everything about this record just feels massive. So grand and triumphant, ready made to echo through desert canyons and to fill stadiums with a symphony of sound and colour. Fans of The War On Drugs will find a lot to love here as it explores the same hazy blend of dream pop and Americana, hardly surprising given they share a producer here and Adam Granduciel lends his guitar talents. There’s a dash of the bombastic disco of latter day Arcade Fire that pops up every now and again too, but the shimmering synths and soaring hooks are unquestionably Killers.
The band just seem to have struck a winning streak with this record, full of majestic arrangements, infectious melodies and slick performances. It’s rare to come across a record these days (Killers’ or otherwise) with so little filler. Only ‘When The Dreams Run Dry’ and the Talking Heads funk of ‘Fire And Bone’ are the real culprits here, and even then they only feel lacklustre as the band throw everything they’ve got into so many other moments. The slow burning intro of ‘Dying Breed’ gives way to the band’s own gloriously uplifting spin on Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’. It’s one of the most electrifying few minutes of music I’ve heard this year and just makes you feel like you can take on the world. The stylish stomp of ‘My God’ anchors the kaleidoscopic experiments around its monster earworm chorus, the title track is endearingly over the top and playful, while ‘Running Towards A Place’ delivers some of Brandon Flowers’ very best lyricism to date against a backdrop of Fleetwood Mac-esque riffs. Speak of the devil, Lindsey Buckingham himself makes an appearance the the album’s stunning lead single ‘Caution’ which is a strong contender for my song of the year.
For the most part I make a habit of avoiding singles and wait to hear the full album in all its glory. With that in mind Imploding The Mirage was a marvellous surprise to delve into. I wasn’t expecting a record that so consistently delivered rich vibrant soundscapes and incredible hooks. One that so often ignited a fire in my veins, a yearning to burn up the open road and sing at the top of my lungs. And I certainly wasn’t expecting this to be one of my favourite albums of the year by a country mile, and yet here we are. Now all we need is for corona to fuck off back to the ninth circle of hell where it belongs so we can hear Mirage in all its splendour in the cavernous arena setting that it was so clearly and impeccably made for.