In this wonderful season of concerts and new music, one of the things I have most eagerly been waiting for was the release of The Killers’ new album,Wonderful Wonderful. (You can go to The Killers’ website here for links to buy or stream the album.) I didn’t even know it was on the way until I first heard the song The Man on the radio. And this song just completely rocked my world! I loved it instantly and couldn’t wait for more. Loved it so much that I pre-ordered the whole album, which I never do – not even for U2.
Finally September 22 arrived and with it the new album. I eagerly, impatiently, pushed my headphones into my ears, pressed play on my iPhone and started my journey to work with these new notes assaulting my head in the most wonderful way. I must have looked like a crazed woman on the train, eyes widening in appreciation, smiling broadly, then overcome with sadness, then bouncing my head and feet…
I am so in love with this album. Deeply, passionately in love. I have been a fan of the band since their first album, Hot Fuss. Brandon Flowers has a very unique voice, something about the tone and his delivery that just appeals to me. The music and lyrics hit all the notes (ha ha) that connect with me. Catchy, pulsing, meaningful. Whatever it is in our souls that subjectively attach to certain artists, whatever it is in our being that is responsible for musical appreciation and taste – the Killers check all the boxes…
This album is no different in that regard. Or, actually, maybe it is different, because I’m pretty sure it might just be my favorite Killers album now… It’s hard to let go of Hot Fuss… But these two albums are quite different, with Hot Fuss having a faster tempo over all, more on the rock – modern punk side of things, which I still love so much, but Wonderful Wonderful just speaks to the emotional side of me. Maybe it’s a tie…
This album as a whole is hauntingly beautiful, with poignant lyrics from Brandon, many of which were inspired by his and his wife’s experiences surrounding her struggle with depression and PTSD. Opening up about her struggle and Brandon’s own experiences has left an extremely personal and vulnerable album.
It begins with the title track, Wonderful Wonderful. Horns (I think) call out, a hint of scratchy drums, bass glides in smoothly, then this powerful powerful drumming matched with Brandon singing, almost talking. The lyrics, a beautiful articulation of someone talking to someone, in this case Motherless Child, struggling with “afflictions.” Instantly the theme of this album, living with PTSD or living with someone with PTSD, comes softly, powerfully, to head.
This is an eloquent, emotional telling of a desire to help a loved one who is in pain, to rescue them, “Don’t you listen to the never…. Stay on the path that leads to the well. There are many, take the one that leads to the well, rescue rescue.” The deep-seated need to comfort them:
Motherless child, follow my voice
And I shall give thee great cause to rejoice
Motherless child, be of good cheer
My arm is reached out, I am here
I’ll crush every doubt and every fear
Yet it also hints at the fears and doubts and pain experienced by the one who wishes to ease another’s suffering: “Maybe I’m dirty, maybe I’m unworthy.” It is easy to concentrate on the person going through any kind of trauma, whether it be a physical illness/broken bones or mental anguish; however, those that care for the injured person face their own set of injuries.
It is heartbreaking to see someone you love suffer in any kind of pain. Anguish. The compelling need to make your loved one well. This song is all over these emotions. That strong heartbeat of a drum hammers home the desire.
I really like the double-meaning of ‘well’ in the lyric “Stay on the path that leads to the well.” At my first hearings of the song I interpreted it as the physical well which contains water, which is a metaphor for the end goal. But now I can also hear it as the other literal meaning – well-being, wellness: “stay on the path that leads to the well.” Beautiful.
This song is followed by The Man. This is punky, disco-y, dance-y, grooving, strutting Killers. The beat of this song is lively, funky. Just try to not tap your feet, nod your head in time. It really is a strutting song: Life is good, I’m the man. I am awesome, I’m the man. The arrogance:
Don’t try to teach me, I got nothing to learn
‘Cause baby I’m gifted
You see what I mean?
USDA certified lean
I almost wonder if it isn’t about Donald Trump – that arrogance of you got nothing I need – “Don’t need no advice, I got a plan.” Or this verse:
I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man
I got skin in the game
I got a household name
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man
And during the repeating lines of “Who’s the man with the plan?,” I almost hear: “Who’s the man with the tan? I’m the man.” :’)
At any rate, I enjoy this song so much! I love the pause of silence in “Headed to the hall of… fame,” the no -no-nothing’s, the cheeky delivery of “USDA certified lean,” the dirty guitar – held for seconds (I have no idea what the effect is called… but that dooooo dooo part…) throughout the song. And do I hear some bass slaps in there too? I need to hear this song live!
Next, The Rut. Here we go with the haunting beautiful, deep, personal, incredibly touching, tear my heart out song… It’s gentle, this song of despair and hope: “Don’t give up on me, I’m just in a rut. I’m climbing but the walls keep stacking up.” The song begins and ends with a woman’s voice singing this line, distorted. But then Brandon sings it throughout the rest. Who’s in the rut, her or him, or both? But the crescendo, that striking build of “I’ll climb and I’ll climb” again and again. Sigh. All the feels!
I get deep chills up and down my spine, through my shoulders, and down to my toes during Life to Come. “Let go of the blame. Have a little faith in me. Just drop-kick the shame.” The emotion in Brandon’s voice as he sings “If you call my name, I will run whether or not it’s tonight.” I imagine these words are for his wife, but they are an anthem for anyone in a personal relationship with someone struggling with mental health issues or really any relationship where there is a long-term commitment to be with each other:
I know sometimes you think that I regret it
But I don’t remember stumbling when I said it
I told you that I’d be the one
I was talking about the life to come.
The steady drumming. Seriously, I’m talking a lot in this review about the lyrics and the emotion of the singing, but honestly, the music is just superb. There is so much emotion in the guitar, bass and drums throughout this album!
Run For Cover. Faster. Apocalyptic Drumming. Hard driving melody. Ok, I hear Trump in these lyrics too: “He got a big smile, he’s fake news. Just run for cover, you’ve got nothing left to lose.” A statement on American politics perhaps.
Tyson vs. Douglas. Also fast, the energy and edgy liveliness I associate with the Killers. I assume the lyrics are part memory of this fight between Tyson and Douglas (amazing powers of deduction I have…) and part metaphor for life. I like the lyrics:
You can change the channel
Take the phone off the hook
Avoid the headline
But you’ll never grow up baby if you don’t look
There’s the life lesson 😀
Some kind of Love. Probably my favorite on the album. This is the epitome of beautifully haunting. The breathy, slow delivery; the range, mostly high, with poignant drops to a deeper note. And these words at the end, sung by Brandon and children, perhaps the most hitting message of the theme throughout the album:
Can’t do this alone
We need you at home
There’s so much to see
We know that you’re strong
I’m just going to leave that there and continue crying on this one.
Out of My Mind. Wonderfully melodic. Some wah wah, which I always love. References to Springsteen and McCartney. Catchy chorus. Exquisite in its simplicity. A touching ode to falling in love. I have to make these descriptions shorter, this is already such a long post – I told you I love this album!!
The Calling. A lot of religious discourse here, including the spoken intro (by Woody Harrelson!). Not really my thing but so very well put together, the lyrics. A story of Judgement Day. “But daddy did you think that you could outrun the Holy Ghost? (Here comes the calling) Lie, cheat, steal, hope they fix it all up in post.” The beat is extraordinary. The beat of the drum, the guitar, the beat of the lyrical-ness. Sometimes songs that hit each pause are. so. striking!
Have All The Songs Been Written. Apparently this song was inspired by Bono, who helped Brandon work through his writer’s block leading up to this album. Also Mark Knopfler plays guitar on it.
The Deluxe Album includes the bonus song Money on Straight. I love the lyrics – a little bit people keep making us adult:
Get your hair cut
Get your money on straight
Get your head right
And don’t forget where you come from
Who your friends are and all that shit
Lovely piano. More melodic again, love it.
And two remixes of The Man….
Seriously, this album. It really is Wonderful Wonderful!! I’m going to stop the praise here… Just go to iTunes or where ever and buy it!
And hey, The Killers – if you happen upon this blog, please please please extend your tour to more Canadian dates – forget Sam’s Town, come to my town!!!! (Edmonton Alberta…)
Posted in: Music Review