The Killers: Imploding the Mirage review – Pomp, schmaltz and tunes

This is a somewhat predictable but very fine rock album from the altered line-up

Imploding the Mirage
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Artist: The Killers
Genre: Rock
Label: Island Records

It was always supposed to be this way. From the first to the last note of The Killers' 2004 debut album Hot Fuss, Brandon Flowers and his bandmates – provided they could stay the course – were destined to become one of the biggest bands in the world. The Las Vegas outfit had both the indie credentials via influences such as New Order and The Smiths, yet enough bombast and anthemic choruses to sate drivetime radio listeners and casual concert-goers.

Lately, however, there have been some big changes in the Killers camp, most notably the departure of guitarist and founding member Dave Keuning. And this is the first Killers record conceived outside the boundaries of Vegas, with Flowers moving his family from the grimy glamour of their hometown to the comparatively greener pastures of Utah.

In reality, neither of those adjustments has made as big a difference to The Killers’ sound as the simple passage of time. If Wonderful Wonderful (2017)  was an album dripping in self-doubt and frustrated melancholy, Imploding the Mirage is rainbow beating a dazzling path through the clouds.

Songs such as Caution, undoubtedly one of their best, exhibit a trademark knack for combining character-based stories with choruses tailor-made for large crowds in big fields. So, too, does opener My Own Soul’s Warning, which bursts out of the traps with a crash-bang-wallop. Running Towards a Place pilfers from the Fleetwood Mac songbook, while Blowback tempers a syncopated disco beat with a slide guitar-infused country patter. Fire in Bone ticks the 1980s dance-pop box, while the omnipresent influence of Springsteen is heard loud and clear on the soaring Dying Breed.


As if that wasn't enough, the roll call of collaborators here is dazzling. Aside from Lindsey Buckingham's turn on Caution, KD Lang turns up on the moody midtempo Lightning Fields; Weyes Blood adds her voice to the booming My God, while War on Drugs virtuoso Adam Granduciel also features. It's the sort of eclectic, era-spanning guest list that only the biggest rock band in the world could lasso.

Still, as enjoyably OTT as Imploding the Mirage is in parts, there’s the odd niggling lyric or dodgy synth riff that betrays The Killers’ reputation as a well-rounded band. Flowers occasionally loses the run of himself, as heard on eye-rollingly nonsensical lines such as “Reach for the summit of an ancient design/ On the verge of eternal, on the heels of divine”.

That’s part and parcel of any Killers album, but your tolerance for such pomp and schmaltz may be tested here. Otherwise, few could argue that this is somewhat predictable, but very fine rock album.

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy

Lauren Murphy is a freelance journalist and broadcaster. She writes about music and the arts for The Irish Times