Music Reviews
Imploding the Mirage

The Killers Imploding the Mirage

(Island Records) Rating - 8/10

For the last couple of years, The Killers have been on the edge of rejuvenation. The band made its name through endlessly catchy songs of unabashed honesty and heart-on-its-sleeve emotional outpourings. Only a group that fully embraced romanticism in all its wide-eyed wonder could write a line like “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” and turn it into a spiritual singalong at festivals for the last 15 years. But they have struggled on the last couple of albums to reach the same heights as their early work. Imploding the Mirage succeeds where past efforts fell short, crafting a cinematic experience that stands as their most consistent work since Day & Age.

You want anthems? You’ve got anthems! This album is chockful of songs that reach beyond the stratosphere, heading into space at escape velocity. Caution paints itself as the opposite of their last album’s lead single, The Man. While that great song is all nighttime Las Vegas swagger, Caution brings across the feeling of flying through the wide-open plains of Utah, where Brandon Flowers recently moved. With quick-footed percussion, skyward synths, and upbeat acoustic strumming, the song ties some New Wave to the Springsteen vibes. And to top it off? A blistering guitar solo courtesy of Lindsey Buckingham. My Own Soul’s Warning is just as powerful, riding an earworm synth melody to an ascending chorus made for shouting from mountaintops. These tracks will be live favorites for years to come.

Although Imploding the Mirage has meteoric tendencies throughout, The Killers have other tricks up their sleeves. Dying Breed opens with a Motorik drumbeat and a wall of sunrise synths, as Flowers reaffirms his love for his wife. “There's gonna be opposition/We got everything we need,” he sings, right before the band sets the track alight. Fire in Bone saunters with unexpectedly funky bass line, as Flowers moves from skittish speak-singing to heartfelt odes. Running Towards a Place is built for long highway drives through the American West, with desert guitar lines and wonderfully bright 80s synths. Blowback starts as pure electronica, with a bubbling rhythm that sounds more like Hot Chip, though it’s unfortunately abandoned after a minute for a more traditional Killers sound.

The group also brings on guest vocalists for a couple of songs, giving them a unique, ear-catching appeal that elevates them into album standouts. As Flowers expresses his feelings of regret and self-doubt on Lightning Fields, k.d. lang arrives as a source of encouragement, her voice gradually rising with the music in a brilliant performance. On the slow-burning My God, Flowers shared vocal duties with Weyes Blood, their voices creating unexpectedly striking and sublime harmonies. It’s one of the best songs on the album.

The only real downside to Imploding the Mirage is that it tapers out by the end. When the Dreams Run Dry and the title track both just repeat the anthemic nature of earlier songs to a lesser degree, the former wasting an intriguingly quiet start and the latter not offering anything new. If the album ended with My God, it would’ve been stronger for it.

Despite the weak ending, Imploding the Mirage is a powerful album from a hungrier and more passionate Killers that have once again embraced bombast with fearlessness, aspiration, and confidence. You can hear the band prevailing over struggles and finding the joy in making music and being alive. When it’s particularly easy to feel cynical, this album offers the same fiery hope that All These Things That I’ve Done did years ago. The Killers have got soul and they’re wearing it proudly on their sleeves once again.