Just one short year after 2020’s Imploding the Mirage album, The Killers return with a way more personal feeling effort than the previous one. And while the return of guitarist Dave Keuning back into the fold helps with the overall sound, there’s still a feeling like something is missing without bassist Mark Stoermer’s presence.
Apparently a loose concept record, Pressure Machine focuses on the Utah childhood of lead singer Brandon Flowers in the most Springsteen-like way possible. The one-two punch of “West Hills” and “Quiet Town” help establish the Americana tone of the eleven track album from then on out, and are arguably a couple of the strongest numbers found here. Other highlights include “Cody,” “In the Car Outside,” and “Runaway Horses,” featuring a duet with the lovely Phoebe Bridgers.
I’ve definitely struggled to find the love I once had for The Killers on their first two albums, and my enthusiasm for their last two releases was no doubt lower than usual. But Pressure Machine contains some undeniable moments of greatness, and at the very least deserves a chance at least.
The Killers continue to further evolve their unique sound six albums in, with more of the same vibrant instrumentation and thought-provoking lyrics the band has always been known for. Yet, there’s a slight lack of unity felt with the absence of guitarist/co-founder Dave Kuening missing from the fold (long-time bassist Mark Stoermer has also been largely m.i.a. in recent times after a pyrotechnics accident).
Lead-off single “Caution” stood as a fair representation of what was to come with the rest of Imploding the Mirage when it was released this past spring. But tracks like “My Own Soul’s Warning” (another sure to be staple for the band) and “Dying Breed” either equal or surpass that first teaser track on many levels. Other numbers like “Fire in Bone” invoke the Talking Heads, while “Lightning Fields” features an appearance from k.d. lang.
Imploding the Mirage is no doubt an admirable effort, but I still can’t help but feel some of the magic from the band’s first two now-classic albums (2004’s Hot Fuss and 2006’s Sam’s Town) is still missing. But I suppose it’s still better having this version of The Killers, then nothing at all.
On their fifth full-length album, The Killers continue to showcase their endless ability to write heartfelt, earnest music. Wonderful Wonderful may not be quite on the same level as earlier efforts such as 2006’s Sam’s Town, but it no doubt expands the band’s catalog further in the right direction.
Lead-off single “The Man” may lean somewhat on the ‘hokey’ side (though in a harmless way), but it’s two follow-up singles, “Run For Cover” and “Rut,” are nearly flawless (especially the former). Other highlights include “Out of my Mind,” “Have All the Songs Been Written?,” and “Tyson vs. Douglas” (surprisingly one of the best tracks on the album). There’s a reason why Wonderful Wonderful was the band’s first album to go straight to number one, and if you’re already a fan of The Killers, you’re likely to get it.