The Killers have many sterling singles to their name but have failed to deliver a vital-sounding LP and Wonderful Wonderful is no different. Their first album in 5 years is not a bad album. It produces some of their best work since Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town. Yet it is also not an inherently great album.
They have never really strived to create anything other than catchy, colourful pop-rock. Their greatest hits tend to border on the zany lyrically and even musically, and Flowers does fall flat in that regard here. Purposefully, perhaps, as we see a more vulnerable aspect to Brendan Flowers’ lyrics. The album is largely infused with generic sounding rock balladry and uninspired lyrics but has some impressive moments, usually when the band increases the tempo and the quirkiness, as opposed to the less than impressive attempts at earnest, rock artistry.
Man is undeniably the album’s greatest moment, a well-executed disco track where Flower’s shares his take on his own masculinity. It is a witty and vibrant track that utilises Daft Punk-like synths to bring the chorus to life. Flowers is at his best here, he quips that he is “USDA certified lean”. Dance-floor worthy hyper-masculinity is followed by Rut, a slow-burning ballad that Flowers uses as an opportunity to explore feelings of sorrow and gloom. The album’s refrain rings powerfully in what is probably the best written song Flowers has produced in years, “Don’t you, give up on me // I’ll climb and I’ll climb” are repeated as the song reaches its uplifting pinnacle.
What’s troublesome is Flower’s inability to unshackle his influences – he wears them unerringly, to the point where “Life is Come” sounds unmistakably like an average 90’s era U2 album track. The vocals mirror Bono’s intonations and glare, the unmemorable guitars, the docile and mediocre lyrics, especially the drab “drop-kick the shame” line he repeats throughout. Wonderful Wonderful is a decent opening track but mirrors Depeche Mode with Flowers’ grand vocal delivery meshed over quirky electronic-laden layers. It is another example of the band creating something which does not necessarily sound bad but fails to drive home any particular theme or sound without sounding nostalgic.
When The Killers hit form they can craft catchy feel-good pop and Run for Cover is an example of this. Flowers opens the track with his trademark tongue in cheek, “What have you gathered to report to your progenitors? Are your excuses any better than your senators?”. The band sound best when they aim for powerful choruses driven by simple guitar work and the pace of such a tracks compliment the band’s talents successfully.
Diehard fans of The Killer’s and Brandon Flowers will love this album. It is a definite improvement on the last two projects and marks a return to a sprightly release sprinkled with pop-rock hits. Overall Wonderful Wonderful remains quite mediocre. It falls where the band themselves often fall: a one-dimensional approach that takes too many influences and executes them poorly.