Title: Imploding the Mirage

Artist: The Killers
Label: Island
Genre: Alternative Rock / Synth Pop
Released: 21 August 2020


imploding the mirage

“I'm throwin' caution

What's it gonna be?

Tonight the winds of change are blowin' wild and free

If I don't get out

Out of this town

I just might be the one who finally burns it down”

I’ve never really been a huge Killers’ fan before. I really like “Hot Fuss”, but apart from that I haven’t ever really delved into their music. So since I had about a 16 year gap in my Killers’ vocabulary going into their new record, “Imploding the Mirage”, I didn’t really know what to expect. Apart from hearing one of the singles from their previous album, ‘The Man’, which I really like, I wasn’t even sure what musical direction they had taken over the last two decades. But thankfully, my reintroduction to their music with “Imploding the Mirage” was extremely enjoyable, and will most likely have me doing some backtracking to fill in that 16 year blind spot that I have in their discography.

This album immediately struck me with how Springsteen-inspired it was at almost every turn. Looking up interviews after listening to it confirmed just how big of an inspiration he was for Brandon Flowers, but the sheer amount of it that can be heard in the music is insane. The album doesn’t seem to feel like hiding this either, proudly wearing its influences on its sleeve rather than trying to supress them. And it’s the bold, Springsteen-esque songwriting that makes this attitude really work. The first track, ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’, instantly opens with a dynamic and maximalist introduction; utilizing elements of synths, drums and even similar vocal inflections that sound directly out of “Born in the U.S.A”. It’s an impactful start to the record, with a great tune and some poetic lyricism from Flowers. And while a little too overproduced to really achieve the same rawness and poignancy of Springsteen’s music, the songwriting and composition, as well as Flowers’ vocal performance are all pretty incredible.

“If you could see through the banner of the sun

Into eternity's eyes, like a vision reaching down to you

Would you turn away?

What if it knew you by your name?

What kind of words would cut through

The clutter of the whirlwind of these days?”

What follows this are a really tight collection of tracks, with very little fat to trim at all. Although it doesn’t really venture too far out of its comfort zone, “Imploding the Mirage” is just a straight up fun album. There are only a few moments that don’t gel too well, but even they’re fairly enjoyable. The second track for instance, ‘Blowback’, does end up pretty corny with its anthemic country-song-sound and lyrics. Although it seems fairly tongue-and-cheek, it’s still one of the more cringe worthy moments on the album, and hearing it so early in the tracklist is a bit worrying. Thankfully however, the album does improve almost instantly, with ‘Dying Breed’ and ‘Caution’ both being excellent.

On top of this, the choices of features on the album are great: both k.d. lang and Weyes Blood’s performances in ‘Lighting Fields’ and ‘My God’ actually overshadow Flowers’ by a fair bit, and add some nice texture to the album. Weyes Blood in particular does an excellent job of adding some silky smooth vocals to contrast against the anthemic and overblown instrumentals of ‘My God’. Her voice also nicely complements Flowers’, as he sings with a certain rigidity and strength throughout the track that goes with her vocals like cheese and wine.  

The heavy Springsteen influence is something that’s apparent throughout the entire album. But at points, the record does seem to cross the line between inspiration and tribute into simply sounding derivative. The third track, ‘Dying Breed’, for instance, has almost the exact same melody of Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’. And coupled with Flowers’ various vocal homages, it’s hard not to immediately think of The Boss while listening anything on the album. Because of this, even though ‘Dying Breed’ is actually one of the highlights on the album, it still unfortunately leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth hearing some of it. Similarly, the opener ‘My Own Soul’s Warning’ sounds extremely reminiscent of several Springsteen songs, such as ‘Dancing in the Dark’, however it doesn’t suffer the same issue as ‘Dying Breed’ of sounding directly derivative.

“There's gonna be opposition

But we've got everything we need

Ooh, baby, we're a dying breed”

The rest of the tracks on here are pretty solid, with almost everything on here being an enjoyable listen without any issues. It all leads up to the title track, which concludes the album and has an extremely interesting introduction with a sitar and acapella vocals that sounds like it could really switch up the album in its final moments. However after about ten seconds, it unfortunately turns into one of the more generic sounding tracks from the album, and leaves the record off on a bit of a disappointing note. Despite this, “Imploding the Mirage” as a whole is a solid and fun listening experience that is pretty easy to enjoy.

After listening to “Imploding the Mirage” I can definitely say I’ll be going back to listen to their older stuff that I’ve missed since 2004’s “Hot Fuss”. This isn’t a perfect album, but if I liked it enough to want to explore the rest of the band’s back catalogue, it must have been doing something right. I’m not sure how die-hard Killers fans will feel about this, since I haven’t listened to the rest of their music, but from a non-fan’s perspective this is a really solid and enjoyable album. It’s dynamic, fun, and concise enough that it doesn’t outstay its welcome. While there were a few moments that didn’t really work for me, on the whole this was a really good reintroduction into The Killers’ music, and I’m excited to hear their future releases once I’m all caught up.

“Cause it's some kind of sin

To live your whole life

On a might've been

I'm ready now”

Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 02/09/2020