The Killers’ sixth studio album, Imploding the Mirage, has finally arrived three years and one Covid-19 delay since their last. The band has delivered their strongest album in over a decade, treating listeners with a hopeful and defiant collection of songs. Similar to 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful, the key to understanding the band’s new work lies in frontman Brandon Flowers’ relationship with his wife Tana. The album’s crucial theme is the journey of a couple towards a better place. This journey is literal for the Flowers family who recently left their hometown of ‘fabulous’ Las Vegas, Nevada and moved into a peaceful corner of Utah. Vegas is a loaded city for Tana who suffers from PTSD due to trauma she experienced as a child. Imploding the Mirage’s cover art shows what Flowers described to Forbes as two ‘celestial beings’, with the male guiding the woman away from a storm towards a sun-soaked land with a rainbow hanging overhead.
Lyrically, these themes come to light in the lead single ‘Caution’, released pre-lockdown. In the chorus, which the band admits has been around for years, Flowers defiantly declares ‘If I don’t get out / out of this town / I just might be the one who finally burns it down’. This is a reference to his recent move away from Vegas, when he threw caution to the wind and took the step of leaving his hometown. In the album track ‘Running towards a Place’ he asks ‘if we’re running towards a place / where we’ll walk as one / will the hardness of this life be overcome?’.
As for the album’s sound, the absence of the influence of founding member Dave Keuning, who no longer tours with the band and was not part of the writing of the album, is felt less than it was on ‘Wonderful Wonderful’. The band instead turned to collaborations, like Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac’s guitar solo in ‘Caution’ in an attempt to recapture their signature big sound. There is also room for synth heavy feel-good bangers like My Own Soul’s Warning, My God and title track Imploding the Mirage. Having said this, parts of the album impress less. ‘Fire in Bone’, the second song to be officially released on the album, feels disjointed and never quite clicks into place. A couple of album tracks, though still pleasing for seasoned Killers fans, do not feel like they bring anything new to the table. For instance, The Blowback would not have been lost on 2012’s Battleborn and When the Dreams Run Dry could easily have been found on Wonderful Wonderful.
It is difficult to foresee the Killers ever reaching the heights of Hot Fuss or Sam’s Town again, the albums that saw them burst onto the U.K. music scene in the noughties. However, Imploding the Mirage further cements their place as one of the best and most consistent rock bands of the last 15 years. What’s more, the band have suggested in recent interviews that a 7th LP is less than 12 months away. It’s an exciting time to be a Killers fan.
The Killers’ planned 2020 stadium tour of the U.K. has been delayed to 2021.