The Killers have been in a bit of a rut lately. It’s been a decade and a half since their biggest hits and yet those songs are the ones we remember. Not that we automatically compare their new stuff to the likes of “Mr. Brightside” or “Somebody Told Me” but it’s there, hovering around, reminding us of what is out there. Wonderful Wonderful is that all over again. You know they’re trying, and they’re trying hard. There are glimpses of the crazy across the record – perhaps more so, but without the throw-everything-and-see-what-sticks feel. (“USDA, certified lean” on “The Man” still grabs me despite repeated listens.) And yet it all feels like territory we’ve been on before, and it’s not as exciting as it used to be. But they’re trying really hard. There’s the sense that they’re hoping something, anything, will claim even half of the anthemic status of their most iconic work. Me, if they didn’t try so hard Wonderful Wonderful would feel effortless; instead it’s weighed down by their own expectation. [NB] | 3/5
In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.
I met Nat at one of the many lobbies of the EDSA Shangri-La. She had, on her purse, a bunch of Philippine postcards and a rolled-up sheet of cartolina, and that’s apart from her bag, which, I assume, has the usual stuff a girl brings.
“Shot At The Night” by the Killers | Manila-bound the Killers are releasing a best-of album, the cunningly named Direct Hits, this November, and with it comes two new songs. This one, “Shot At The Night”, is one of them – and, well, why do I find this weird? And I’m not referring to the involvement of Anthony Gonzalez, aka M83. His ethereal electronica mixes in well with the Killers’ glam sound, softening their Hot Fuss-era stance and making it a little more, uhh, kinky. What I find weird (and, again, I shouldn’t) is how this sounds very much like a song from REO Speedwagon, or one of those other groups I hear a lot in taxis, singing gloopy ballads at one in the afternoon. Again, it’s not unusual – the Killers have always had a spot for the 80s – but I don’t know. I guess I have to get used to it again. [NB]
The Killers return with what sounds like a promising fourth record. Battle Born starts with a swagger that the band’s experimentations in prior albums seem to have lost (and I’m not saying this to diss Sam’s Town or Day & Age). “Flesh and Bone” and carrier single “Runaways” gets things going, and then it somehow sputters towards the second third. It’s not that they lost the swagger: it’s just that they fail to offer something else after hooking you in. It’s not to say it’s a disappointing album entirely: “The Rising Tide” and “Deadlines and Compliments” see Brandon Flowers and company toe the line between the glamour of Vegas and the grit of the rest of America – which is what they did well, really. For what it’s worth, Battle Born is a good return for the Vegas foursome. It just could be better. | 3/5