It’s been nearly four years since The Killers released Day & Age. Their fourth album, Battle Born, is scheduled for release on September 18th.
The lead single, “Runaways,” has had a month to circle around your iPod, and now it’s time to review.
First of all, I’ve got to give The Killers credit for being one of the most homegrown bands in music. So many of their songs just sound like the Vegas desert.
“Runaways” starts slow, but always with the anthemic passion Killers’ singles are known for. The space between audio tracks is executed to perfection, emoting cool autumn nights and high school crushes.
Much like Day & Age standout “A Dustland Fairytale,” the song tells the story of a young, American couple falling in love; and either Brandon Flowers is the most sincere singer in rock today, or he’s the best pretender: “She finally broke down and held my hand,” he sings. It’s a nice line, far from novel, but damn if Flowers doesn’t sell it.
For anyone holding their breath for a bold, new musical direction from The Killers, keep holding. Much like the subject-matter, the construct of “Runaways” is well-tread ground–emphatic bass drum keeping the beat, 80’s arena rock guitar and the same synthesizer preset they’ve been using since “Somebody Told Me” (don’t quote me on this, but I think they DO incorporate banjo into this bridge!). While the production echoes Day & Age the grand scale and semi-tribal chanting recall Sam’s Town.
When the second verse kicks in, that’s when you know The Killers are back. “We got engaged on a Friday night,” Flowers tells us, and if you aren’t nodding your head yet, check your pulse. Similarly, the second chorus is a punch to the gut and, destined to be screamed by legions of heartbroken teens at summer festivals for years to come.
The final verse is somewhat of a thematic departure for The Killers, who often treat their romantic songs with that commercial American optimism. Here, though, we get more a “great American novel” treatment, with our high school sweetheart’s marriage in shambles, our narrator a drunken shell of himself. But hey that’s life.