Album Review: The Killers – Imploding the Mirage

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The Killers are a venerable name in modern rock ‘n’ roll. Here, we have a band that still produces music with the same invigorating character since the early 2000s. After a two month delay, we finally have their sixth studio album, Imploding the Mirage, to parade among the rest of their discography. The record captures the band’s strong affinity for stadium rock ‘n’ roll: it’s loud, energetic, and exhilarating, but also deeply intimate and mature. It’s what The Killers do best. Fans will undoubtedly view the album as a culmination of the band’s previous work, combining the synth-rock melodies of Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town, and Day & Age with the heartland lyricism of Battle Born and Wonderful Wonderful. One thing’s for sure though: Imploding the Mirage continues to demonstrate The Killers’ unwavering dedication to rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.

I remember when I first saw The Killers back in 2018. After two years on the road promoting the Wonderful Wonderful album, the band was ready to deliver one final performance. I can recall vividly: frontman Brandon Flowers strutting towards centre stage as rays of neon light paved way for an ensemble entrance, bursts of confetti, and a roaring crowd, occurring in perfect synchrony to ‘The Man’s opening riff. The energy was electric (thunderous when they played ‘Mr. Brightside’), and Imploding the Mirage is no different. It’s an album of pure energy.

It’s loud, energetic, and exhilarating, but also deeply intimate and mature.

‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ is a strong opening track that shows exactly what the band is capable of. A punchy bassline and brisk tempo exude a rhythmic intensity that feels right at home on a Killers record. Rich synths amplify the gravitas of Flowers’ lyrics, which paint a portrait of struggle and defeat. It’s a pulsating track that can be enjoyed by rock fans of any locale. Electro-tilted ‘Blowback’ and ‘Dying Breed’ are carefully constructed narratives; comfort, companionship, and resilience are poignant themes Flowers explores with great finesse. He’s a poet at heart, channelling personal experience into Springsteen-esque tracks that work well with the album’s heartland themes.

‘Caution’ contains everything fundamentally Killers: dancers, deserts, small towns, and plenty of rich Americana. It’s a song about the dream of a larger life, where frustration and the need for escape are acute realities. Powerful vocals, fierce percussion, and an especially dynamic guitar solo by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham pulsate the energy of a stadium-worthy anthem. It’s easily one of the album’s strongest tracks. The gospel elements of ‘Lightning Fields’ emanate an ethereal quality. Colourful harmonies are sustained throughout by the tenacious vocal interplay between Flowers and k.d. lang. ‘Fire in Bone’ marks a surprising, but welcome turn into Talking Heads-funk territory. A thick and resonant bassline guides us through a lurid string of images as Flowers explores themes of isolation and self-doubt.

Flowers harmonizes to perfection with Weyes Blood, roaring punchy lyricisms that are bound to ring for a while.

‘Running Towards a Place’ sees the band dive into U2 and Springsteen territory deeper than ever. Flowers deals with the same heartland themes we’ve seen thus far. Longing and frustration hide behind a line of guitars and synths, resulting in a blues-rock inspired track that could easily fit in Rattle and Hum or Born to Run. ‘My God’, aptly titled, is the album’s most pop-centric track. Steady and pronounced beats pervade throughout and hit especially hard towards the chorus. Flowers harmonizes to perfection with Weyes Blood, roaring punchy lyricisms that are bound to ring for a while.

‘When the Dreams Run Dry’ is The Killers at their most existential. Flowers sings of existence, morality, and ambition in one his strongest vocal performances on the album. Layers of dramatic instrumentation drive us towards a cathartic climax full of celestial imagery. ‘Imploding the Mirage’ takes after both Tom Petty and The Cars, two major influences on The Killers’ discography. Here we have an upbeat track that greatly contrasts the album’s more brisk and intense elements. It’s a colourful and fitting end to the album, to say the least.

The Killers know how to play their cards right. Stadium-bangers and ballads alike, Imploding the Mirage embodies the type of energy a rock ‘n’ roll album should. The band continues to harness the sonic and lyrical innovation that pioneered their music since the early days of Hot Fuss: pop-rock, new-wave, post-punk, and heartland – they’re all here. We’re ultimately presented with an album that’s familiar, but palpably mature. The Killers are back more powerful than ever. And six albums in, it certainly shows.

Image: The Killers at Brixton Academy in September 2017 by Raph_PH via Wikimedia Commons

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