It’s appropriate that the Killers have released their fourth album, and first following an 18-month hiatus, during an Olympic year. Just about every character in frontman Brandon Flowers’ mythological America comes from the kinds of dusty small towns that produce amateur boxers and steely teenage gymnasts — underdogs dreaming of escape and impossible heights.
Plus, the Killers themselves have always gone for the gold, boldly aiming to fill exotic stadiums with full-throated anthems about big ideas. Like the band’s previous output, Battle Born only knows how to be epic: Opener ”Flesh and Bone” begins as a glitchy Soft Cell throwback before rapidly expanding into a glorious fireworks-and-brimstone sermon, while ”Miss Atomic Bomb” drives into the desert sunset in a convertible fueled by echoey guitars and glistening-eyed nostalgia. These are big songs, determined to deliver photo-finish climaxes every few seconds.
Even elite athletes can’t handle that much adrenaline — and Battle does eventually get winded, especially when the melodies don’t match Flowers’ lofty reach. But those stumbles fit the band’s narrative; not every scrappy dark horse can earn the top spot on the podium. Just as the London Games were about the journey and the effort, Battle Born is a testament to spirit and sheer will. It’s an album about injecting a little majesty into the mundane and holding your head high — even if sometimes you go home with a silver. B