Imploding The Mirage: The Killers on Caution, Control, and Cultivating Your Own Path

Imploding The Mirage: The Killers on Caution, Control, and Cultivating Your Own Path

On August 21st, Las Vegas trio The Killers returned with all the flair and fireworks the world needed from them at the moment on Imploding The Mirage.

Above all else, The Killers are unabashedly Las Vegas – the essence of the city  bleeds through Nevada-native Brandon Flowers’s music in the form of sequined arena rock anthems and iridescent desert fringe. The pop-rock trio’s sixteen year catalog  is  timeless – Flowers lights up the stage as if it was his first show as he belts out choruses reminiscent of the new wave and post-punk era while remaining entirely modern. Their consistently sticky melodies, euphoric synth and guitar riffs, and unwaveringly positive themes have granted them their longevity. With this latest release, we see Flowers and the band sitting back and reveling in their own icon status. Imploding The Mirage has nothing to prove, and that’s what makes it so effectively and indisputably a Killers record.

Following a less than overwhelming response to the 2017 LP Wonderful Wonderful, a trademark Killers record was all any of us really wanted. After thirteen years, one can only wonder if a band of their stature had run its course. Wonderful Wonderful focused on more sobering themes (by The Killers’s standard), which isn’t a bad thing, but they also delved into harder rock ventures that lacked the grandiosity and uplift that engrossed their audience for over a decade. By that standard, Imploding The Mirage probably could not have arrived at a better time. This record is packed with optimism and energy from front to back – it’s almost exhausting. The Killers have always had a knack for taking somewhat overdone and tacky sentiments (personal authenticity, leaps of faith, etc.) and breathing charming life into them that’s impossible not to love (the 80’s flair on these tracks is a welcome gaudiness).

“My Own Soul’s Warning” is, simply put, a perfect album opener. It contains themes of ignoring your calling and the remorse of pursuing a false path, and the introductory line, “I tried going against my own soul’s warning / But in the end something just didn’t feel right”, adeptly reflects the overall sentiments of the record and what’s to come. The overblown, synth-y riff sounds reminiscent of a Bruce Springsteen arena anthem – one of Flowers’s cited musical idols. It also offers what I believe is this album’s most danceable moment, as if we needed more reasons to crave being in a live audience again.

Remember what I said about breathing charm into archetypal themes? There are few things The Killers do better than gorgeous rock ballads depicting endearing characters painted in vivid realism. “Blowback” illustrates a girl born into “white trash” and resolute to break from that classification. The Killers highlight their western influence in a big way on this track, with twangy slide guitar and vocal manipulations inciting even greater charm in their storytelling.

“But she’s breathing in the blowback
Born into poor white trash and always typecast
But she’s gonna break out, boy, you’d better know that
It’s just a matter of time
She fights back
(Breathing in again)
Breathing in the blowback” 

Many of these themes are carried through to “Caution”, a song about taking leaps of faith and confronting change with self-assertion. Flowers’s bombastic quality returns on the refrain before a winded guitar solo takes over (another album highlight) and the lyrics depict yet another character (perhaps even the same one) prepared to leave an old life behind. The lyric, “If I don’t get out / Out of this town / I just might be the one who finally burns it down” drives the sentiment home with heartrending fervor.

“My God” is amongst the most talked about tracks off of the record, with a feature from psychedelic rocker Weyes Blood. A religious man himself, Flowers laments, “control is overrated” in an assertion that the moral high ground does not require superiority, but rather equality. Elements of gospel are highly apparent as well, specifically on a chorus equipped for arena-wide sing-along.

“Don’t talk to me about forgiveness
My God, just look who’s back in business
That weight that dragged you down, it has been made light
And I’m at the top of my lungs
‘Cause big love cannot be understated
Don’t push, control is overrated
I know that if we stick together
My God, it’s like the weight has been lifted” 

After sixteen incredibly successful years as a group, The Killers have once again proven their longevity and range. From folky poeticism on “Caution” and “Blowback” to all-American rock moments on tracks like “Dying Breed” to the post-punk influence on “Fire in Bone”, The Killers truly are a band for the ages. With this latest success, we hope that Imploding The Mirage is a promise that they don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.

Photo credit: Robert Ashcroft

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