The Killers return to battle

Ryan Hall

The Killers have returned after a two-year hiatus to release their fifth album Battle Born. The first single “Runaways” hinted this record would continue the stadium rock sound of their previous albums. The Killers titled the album after their home state of Nevada’s official slogan, “The Battle Born State.” After many successful tracks and albums, The Killers have become a well-known group on the American music scene. But does their latest work hold up against their past success, or did the hiatus kill The Killers?

First and foremost, I should admit that I am an ardent fan of The Killers. They have consistently ranked in my top five favorite bands since their release of Hot Fuss in 2004, and I have frequently labeled a track from that album, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” as my favorite song of all time. That being said, my goal with this analysis of Battle Born is to stay as objective as possible. 

The album was released in two formats: the standard album consisting of 12 songs and the deluxe version consisting of 15 tracks as well as the “Runaways” music video. Both editions were mastered for iTunes, which persuaded me to finally break from my tradition of buying the physical copy. The three tracks added to the deluxe edition include “Carry Me Home,” a fast-paced ballad about triumphing over loss, “Flesh and Bone (Jacques Lu Cont Remix),” an instrumental-only remix of the first track on the album and “Prize Fighter,” an upbeat rant about impressing the perfect gal.

Fans of The Killers know they always start each album with a rocking leading track. Battle Born is no different, launching the record with a synthesized spark which explodes into the track’s titular chant, “Flesh and Bone.” Following the warm up comes the first Battle Born single, “Runaways.” As the most radio-worthy track, “Runaways” sets the Battle Born’s theme of love and love lost, which evolves as the tracks roll on. The next four songs “The Way It Was,” “Here With Me,” “A Matter of Time” and “Deadlines and Commitments” all reflect the thoughts and emotions that come with falling out of love. Songs of this nature are not new to The Killers, but they have a saddened tone this time in comparison to the almost spiteful hits “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” from Hot Fuss.

The mood of Battle Born shifts halfway through the album, starting with “Miss Atomic Bomb.” If I had to guess which song might become the second single from this album, I would pick this powerful ballad. I am a sucker for songs that build up as they go on, in pursuit of a crescendo that arrives just before the song begins to finally fade away. The Killers have been masters at this style of song writing in the past, and this track proves they have not lost their talent for the craft. As a result, “Miss Atomic Bomb” stands as my favorite track off Battle Born.

“The Rising Tide” begins with a slowly blossoming synthesized beat that tricks you into thinking it will be an entirely different song than what follows. A fast-paced, guitar-and-vocal-focused piece provides further evidence that Brandon Flowers could sing Moby-Dick and make it sound interesting.

The ninth song on Battle Born, “Heart of a Girl,” begins a series of slow songs, with the exception of the uncharacteristically fast “From Here On Out,” which acts like a comic relief piece before the dramatic finish. “Be Still,” one of these slow-paced tracks, puts many of the previous tracks to shame. Though the album seems to focus on love lost early on, the earlier pieces are quickly forgotten when compared to the sheer power behind “Be Still.” The song is a masterpiece that will probably go underrated by a lack of radio play, but it stands as easily the best slow ballad on Battle Born.

Finally, Battle Born concludes with its title track “Battle Born.” South Dakota gets a shout out amid the lyrics describing the beauty in America when the Black Hills are mentioned. “Battle Born” aims to energize the listener with a message that, though times are tough, now is the time to remain steadfast and get back in the fray.

The Killers may have taken a brief hiatus between albums, but the wait was more than worth the result that is Battle Born. Though arguably not the best in The Killers’ chronology, Battle Born holds its own with past successes like Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town. However, as always, I suggest you have listen for yourself to accurately deduce that of which I am already certain. The Killers are back, and they are battle born.