The hiatus is officially over. The Killers announced today that they’ll drop Battle Born, their first album since 2008’s Day & Age, on September 18. And to mark the occasion, the band has delivered a brand-new jam, “Runaways,” full of all the epic aw-shucks-iness we’ve come to expect. Hooray!
Are you scoffing at my excitement? You may well be scoffing at my excitement. Look, I get it. The Killers aren’t cool. Not even close. Everything they do — the dusty-Americana obsession, the feathers-as-shoulder-pads jackets, the “are we human or are we dancer” — is blatantly calculated. There’s no real loucheness. You can’t imagine Brandon Flowers pissed off and dragging on a cigarette in the back alley outside the venue after a show. You can imagine him back on the air-conditioned tour bus, feverishly charting out the peaks and valleys of the night’s proceedings so as to create an ever more refined rock-and-roll experience. But see, that is what makes Brandon Flowers great. He’s trying to make real, big arena rock. Goddammit, he’s trying.
As you might have noticed, things haven’t been the same in the arena-rock world since Axl Rose lost his swag. These days, outside of the dinosaurs, who’s selling out arenas? We’ve got Coldplay, who shrugged their way to stadium status and have gone about inhabiting it in the most stereotypically British way possible (like, teatime British, not badass track-suit estate-kid British). Some days it feels like Chris Martin is only in the rock-star game for the fashionably ill-fitting jackets. Elsewhere, we’ve got … Nickelback? Muse? Jared Leto’s band?! I bet LCD Soundsystem could have gotten there if they wanted to. But they didn’t. And so, as you see, we need help.
And Brandon Flowers wants to help us. He wants, so badly, to cram arenas full of blinky lights and giant riffs and massive sing-alongs. He’s trying hard, and you can see him sweat, and maybe that puts you off, but in my mind that just makes him the Kanye West of rock music. He’s not ’91 Axl. No one is ever going to be ’91 Axl again. But he would like, very much, to be your rock star. Why don’t you give him a chance?