Album Review: The Killers – Battle Born
In typical fashion The Killers release an album that divides both critics and fans and in typical fashion the album soars if given a chance
The Killers – ‘Battle Born’
Record Label: Island, Vertigo
Released On: September 17, 2012
Genre: Alternative Rock, Heartland Rock, New Wave
Music Trajectory Rating: 4/5
Let’s go back in time for a minute or two. Let’s start in 2004 when The Killers came out with Hot Fuss. The Killers were new, fresh and had a hit debut album that had the 4 singles we all know and love. When it came time for the 2nd album to come out, of course there was speculation on how good it would be, what it would sound like, and other common questions when a band readies a 2nd album after a successful debut.
The Killers gave us 1st single “When You Were Young” in September 2006, showcasing a new, mature sound. The single was successful (and actually is one of their most successful singles and their only #1 single to date on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks) and seemed to quiet fans and critics. 2nd album Sam’s Town was released a month later and we saw a huge divide between fans and critics. It seemed like it was one way or the other; The Killers had hit their sophomore slump or The Killers made an Indie/Heartland Rock classic. To me, Sam’s Town was spectacular and got better with each listen. It remains one of my favorite albums of all-time. Speaking of getting better with each listen, isn’t this an underrated feature of an album? What is better: an album that is instantly catchy and dies within a few listens or an album that gets better with each listen and has staying power? I vote the latter and Sam’s Town is definitely the latter. Regardless, Sam’s Town has sold an estimated 4 million copies worldwide compared to Hot Fuss’ estimated 7 million.
Between the release of Sam’s Town in 2006 and The Killers 3rd album Day & Age in 2008, we got the compilation album Sawdust in 2007. Sawdust was a collection of songs/B-sides that didn’t make the final cut of the first two albums as well as a couple covers. There were a few great songs on Sawdust as well as some songs that were absolutely appropriate to not make the final cut of an album. Regardless, Sawdust has sold an estimated 1 million copies worldwide.
In 2008 The Killers released their 3rd album Day & Age with “Human” as the lead single. “Human” is probably one of the weirdest songs The Killers have ever released and it was risky having it be the lead single. It showcased the band’s ever broadening sound and is now a mainstay during live shows. How was the album received? A lot like Sam’s Town, fans and critics were divided. Regardless, the album has sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
Now here we are in 2012 and The Killers are finally back with their 4th album Battle Born. Why such a 4 year span between albums? Lead singer Brandon Flowers released a successful solo album, as did bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. My theory all along is that when it came time to write the follow up to Day & Age, the record label wasn’t impressed with the songs Brandon had written so management decided to have him do a solo album and the band take some time off. Brandon’s solo album Flamingo was a good album but it did sound like watered-down Killers. But back to Battle Born. Lead single “Runaways” is one of the best songs The Killers have ever released and I had such high hopes for the album since they took so long to record it and “Runaways” was such a strong single. But I am going to come right out and say it: I thought Battle Born was terrible when I first heard it (and for the first five or so listens). My initial impression was that it was boring, dreary, and sounded too much like Flamingo and not enough like quintessential Killers.
Being a huge fan, I kept the faith and continued to give Battle Born a chance and I am glad I did because I now think it is a solid album. In a lot of was I like it more than Day & Age. The more I think about it and the more I read other album reviews of Battle Born, the more it reminds me of the situation when Sam’s Town came out. And that is why we went back in time at the beginning of this review; to refresh everyone’s memory of how everyone loved “When You Were Young” when it came out as Sam’s Town’s first single but there was so much initial backlash at the rest of the album, only in time for Sam’s Town to arguably be the best album they have released so far. I see more negative reviews for Battle Born than positive but I am confident that the same thing that happened with Sam’s Town will happen with Battle Born. In time people will grow to love Battle Born.
It is not loaded with catchy, radio-friendly singles like Hot Fuss was, it doesn’t have the charm of Sam’s Town, and it doesn’t have the experimental and pop sound of Day & Age, but Battle Born has something special about it. The album takes flight if given a chance. There are some songs on the album that will become fan favorites (“Flesh and Bone”, “Miss Atomic Bomb”) and surely great live songs (“Here With Me”, “The Way It Was”). The album will most likely divide both critics and fans but what Killers’ album hasn’t?
So now that I’ve said my peace, I am curious to hear what you think of Battle Born, if you’ve heard it. What songs do you think will be released as singles? What songs off Battle Born rank as some of the best songs in The Killers’ discography?
Best 3 Songs on the Album:
“Runaways” (track 2)
“Flesh and Bone” (track 1)
“A Matter of Time” (track 5)
Other Standout Songs:
“Miss Atomic Bomb” (track 7)
“The Way It Was” (track 3)
“Here With Me” (track 4)
“Deadlines and Commitments” (track 6)
Links of Interest:
The Killers Official Site
The Killers Youtube Channel
Follow The Killers on Facebook
Follow The Killers on Twitter
The Killers Myspace Page
The Killers Wikipedia Page
The Killers RollingStone Artist Page
The Killers ArtistDirect Artist Page
The Killers NME.com Artist Page
Battle Born Last.fm
Battle Born on Spotify
Full Lyrics for Battle Born
Spin.com Battle Born Album Review
RollingStone.com Battle Born Album Review
Metacritic.com Battle Born Page
Buy Battle Born on Amazon
I believe this is my favorite album ever released. Every song is great and has this sort of “big” sound that I like with all sorts of instruments and the great signing by Brandon. It gets even better with the Deluxe edition and the 3 bonus tracks. I do think you need to give th album a few listens before you latch on to it, but it gets better and better. I continue to listen to it almost daily 2 weeks later and it’s still amazing!
I loved The Killers but they have gone from unique and brave song choices, with complex and strange background noises, songs full of energy, like Andy, Your’e a star and Glamorous, Indie Rock and Roll the Hot Fuss version to just typical rock music, that I have to say each song is just so similar to the next.