The Killers Review: Imploding The Mirage (The Silver Lining of 2020)

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Rather than writing about something terrible that happened this year (the list is too long), I have decided to offer a break with a review of one of the positive aspects of this year. 2020 graced us with the sixth studio album by the Las Vegas band The Killers, and I’m here to review it!

You may be aware of The Killers thanks to their breakout single Mr Brightside. The track has become the staple of every British party and has appeared on the UK Top Charts every single year since its 2004 release. After the immense success of their debut single, the band continued to release popular hits such as the catchy Somebody Told Me or the confusing Human with the infamous lyric “Are we human or are we dancer?” Today I will be presenting my opinions on the newest addition to the selection, released on the 21st of August, titled Imploding The Mirage.

Our first look at the newest album was Caution, released on the 12th of March. While I still find it hard to believe that such an uplifting and beautiful song came out during what for many was such a depressing and uncertain time as the world entered a lock-down, I know that it happened for a reason. The slow and almost eerie beginning as frontman Brandon Flowers’ voice echoes in the distance is quickly interrupted by the quick and up-beat rhythm of what feels like an 80s classic. In fact, the entire song has such a timeless feel that many would struggle to pinpoint the year that it was written, much less connect it with being the product of the 2020s. The powerful chorus automatically gives you the feeling of strength and inspires you to “throw caution” and break out from the confinement of everyday life. While I do agree that the lyrics may come across as almost ironic (how are we supposed to break free during a pandemic?), in my eyes, this only highlights the fact that change will come. I instantly knew that the song has the potential to be added to The Killers’ hall of fame as the overall sound is reminiscent of the band’s previous discography while still being able to stand on its own two feet and prove that The Killers are improving with each release. Though it is not the first song on the album, it promises an epic collection of songs to follow and leaves you hungry for more as the new era of The Killers begins to blossom in front of our eyes. After having treated this song as the go-to summer tune, I can confidently say that this is by far my favourite feature of the entire album and has even found its way into my top ranking of The Killers songs in general. 

Another radio classic that in turn opens the album is My Own Souls Warning. All about following your heart and reaching the finish line no matter what, fits in perfectly with the preaching of Caution and once more provides a catchy and uplifting melody that sets the tone of the album and welcomes you in without startling you with the bold new sounds. 

The two songs that follow are Blowback and Dying Breed which further work to cement our high expectations for the album as both tracks are able to tackle heavy subjects with an air of positivity and hope. Blowback serves as a song of empowerment by using phrases such as “It’s just a matter of time, she fights back” and Dying Breed becomes another one of my personal favourites with the words serving as a clear love letter to Flowers’ wife. The song effortlessly encapsulates an intimate promise while still proving to be a song that makes it easy to belt out the lyrics.

For the first time in The Killers history, Brandon Flowers is joined by an outside talent to provide the vocals in two songs: Lighting Fields (featuring K.D. Lang) and My God (featuring Weyes Blood). While at first, I was skeptical of this venture and unaware of either of the singers, after hearing both songs for the first time all of my worries vanished. The pairing of Flowers’ voice with the two artists immediately felt natural, making me wonder why this sort of crossover was never done before in their studio albums. On one hand, Lighting Fields is a soft ballad that warms your heart but once the record ends you are often left forgetting about it due to the other giants that simply prove more memorable. On the other hand, My God is in my eyes one of the strongest songs on this album. The heavy Biblical imagery that has almost become expected of the group is at the forefront but never in your face. The title refers to the feeling of relief once “the weight has been lifted”, offering the listener comfort and peace. In an album that leans heavily into empowerment and anticipation of a better future, this song perfectly balances these statements and doesn’t let the listener get carried away with needing to achieve everything at once. It slows the pace lyrically while still providing a heavy beat that matches and maintains the momentum set out from the beginning.

One of the songs that I was not won over by immediately was Fire In Bone. Wanting this review to be as honest as possible, I have to admit that upon hearing this song, I was quite confident that the song was one of the worst that The Killers have offered in the 15 years since their first record. Fire In Bone came across as uninteresting and completely disconnected from their usual style which forced me to skip it on numerous occasions. What do I think of this song now? I like it. Okay, that was not what I expected to say after my first experience with it but I stand by this statement. My change of opinion occurred when I finally decided to commit to it from beginning to end, finally finding that it is not as much of an outcast as I previously believed. The funky and irregular beat proves reminiscent of the overall tone of the band’s third studio album Day & Age, feeling most compatible with tracks such as Joy Ride and A Crippling Blow. While I still feel that the song does not fit in with the rest of the album quite as harmoniously as its companions, the simple and repetitive lyrics burrow their way into your soul compelling you to shout out “Here I am” just as passionately as you have during the songs that came before it. Trust me, this one grows on you.

Some other notable tracks on this record that I have no doubt will continue to reign supreme and firmly hold their own among the previous releases are Running Towards A Place and When The Dreams Run Dry. Both songs are over four minutes of pure bliss and prove their worth as powerful ballads. The first reaffirms the message of achieving dreams but not doing so alone while the second may be considered taking a more pessimistic stance when addressing a similar theme. The cynical line marking the beginning of the second verse “We’re all gonna die!” is simply Flowers’ way of letting us not get too carried away with false hope. Message wise, the song once more serves as a breather between the heavy inspirational imagery of its album siblings and reminds us that there is no rush in achieving our targets. While dreams are important to have and accomplish, we will all get there “running at our own pace” so there is no need to push ourselves unnecessarily. 

The final and title song of the album is in my opinion the definition of ending on a high. While the overall album leans into the themes of maturity, bravery and perseverance, the title track takes all of these motifs and gives them a fun and quirky spin synonymous with a “last hurrah”. Whilst for some the song could be bordering on cheesy and considered an anomaly among the rest of the pieces that come before it, I would have to disagree. For me, the song drips with joy and every time I hear it I can imagine the smiles of the members as they indulge in a little bit of cheeky fun to commemorate the journey that the entire album has taken us on. The almost operatic tone that Flowers adds each time at the end of the chorus by elongating the word “mirage” practically transports me straight into a Disney movie as the prince proclaims his love to his princess. Yes, the song does stand out quite visibly when compared to the rest of the discography, but is that necessarily a bad thing? The Killers have proven their versatility and originality in many instances beforehand and Imploding The Mirage is simply another gem to add to our precious collection.

Overall, as a fan of The Killers, I am extremely happy with their latest release. The album delivers phenomenally with instant classics and the band’s signature heartfelt lyrics. It is impossible to lose focus of any word and by the end, you are left feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Has this album pushed its way into my top spot? Unfortunately not, however, I still consider this to be a worthy component to the band’s portfolio and one of the best releases that this year has offered which I would encourage everyone to experience for themselves. 

By Bogna Bućko

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