The highly anticipated follow-up to 2008’s million-selling, hit-spawning Day & Age, Battle Born was recorded almost entirely in The Killers’ own Las Vegas studio of the same name. Lead single Runaways, a small-town drama of epic proportions, is everything you could wish for from the album’s comeback single; an unmistakably American expression of romance and optimism that heralds the band’s return with cyclonic guitars and a chorus big enough to be bellowed from one end of the Mojave to the other.
Battle Born, named after the words emblazoned on the Nevada state flag, a motto that also gave the band’s studio its name, is everything Killers fans have waited for since the group announced they would be taking a break at the start of 2010. The Las Vegas-based 4-piece – Brandon Flowers (vocals/keyboards), Dave Keuning (guitars), Mark Stoermer (bass), and Ronnie Vannucci (drums) – had toured for eighteen months straight in support of Day & Age, from playing their own shows in some of the world’s most prestigious venues – The Royal Albert Hall, Madison Square Garden – to headlining massive festivals in every corner of the globe. By the end of the run, the band had sold over 15 million copies worldwide of their first three albums, Hot Fuss, Sam’s Town, and Day & Age, and had become one of the world’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll bands in the process. But, they had reached a crossroads. Seven consecutive years of recording, releasing albums and touring had left them ready to take time off. In the ensuing hiatus, three of the four Killers released solo albums to critical accolades (and, in Flowers’ case, to #1 chart success), each showing their own musical roots through their solo directions. Then, in April 2011, the band made their first live appearance in over a year, headlining the inaugural Lollapalooza festival in Chile. The magic was undeniable; what The Killers did best, they did best together. Days later, they headed to Battle Born.
The songs came quickly, starting with Runaways, followed by the record’s heart-string-tugging emotional gravity-centre “Here With Me,” and the stadia-quaking electro-rock of “Flesh & Bone.” When the time the band had refined the body of songs, they put together a dream team of producers, recording in fits and starts and trying new things with each. The list of those involved was a who’s who of the production world, including Daniel Lanois, Steve Lillywhite, Damian Taylor, Stuart Price and Brendan O’Brien.
The process of working with so many of music’s finest sound sculptors has proved to be one that has benefited The Killers enormously, giving them a keener understanding of their own sound, and the resulting album is The Killers at their greatest. Battle Born incorporates elements of each of the records that came before it – Hot Fuss’ storytelling eye for detail, the yearning, mythic American rock ‘n’ roll of Sam’s Town, the anthemic choruses and pop nous of Day & Age – while still forging an entirely new path for the band. It’s an album written with the live audience in mind. The guitars are heavier, the drums more powerful, the vocals more commanding – the record is quintessentially Killers, while sounding bigger and better than ever before. It is an album that, like its namesake and the band that created it, does not back down from its own strengths.
The Killers play UK dates later this year, beginning by headlining V Festival (Aug 18/19), warming up for the festival with an intimate, low-key show at Leeds 02 Academy on August 17th. Watch this space for more!
See Behind The Scenes at Battle Born Studios with NME.com