“Run For Cover” could have been the song of the summer. It’s upbeat, fun and has a great chorus. In fact, a number of songs from The Killers’ new Wonderful Wonderful scream summer. Whether it’s adrenaline-thrusting power-pop (see above) or the beachy, U2 doppelgangers (“Life to Come”), it baffles me why this album would be released on the first day of fall, but as fate would have it, the first weekend of fall were the dog-days of summer’s last gasp in New York. It was a fluke, only Brandon Flowers could attain to maybe make some final gasps for this Killers album.
The Killers are a lot like Journey in that they have excellent hits. The most memorable songs from every previous Killers album are the singles. Just about every great song by the Las Vegas band was released as a single. I’ve tried to enjoy their albums in full, but the only songs worth reverting back to are the “Mr. Brightsides.” This album is incredibly similar, except that of the four (!) tracks that were released before the album’s street date, only 2 were good. At worst, these sound like indie-rock trends that were popular about five years ago fused with Flowers’ best Bono impression. “Life to Come” and “Have All the Songs Been Written?” are built to ring through stadiums, but they’re so constructed with a dull anthemic formula and lazy lyrics: “Has every ship gone sailing?/Has every heart gone blue?” Flowers sings, to bring the album to a lackluster close.
Still, songs like “Rut” and “Tyson Vs. Douglas” aren’t amazing, but they’re not bad. They sound like restrained versions of “When You Were Young.” On “Rut,” Flowers sounds genuine on the chorus singing, “Don’t give up on me/cause I’m just in a rut.” It’s also a moment where The Edge-like guitar tones and flares aren’t being shoved down the song’s throat. “Tyson Vs. Douglas” also sounds like an older song with a New Wave instrumental. It’s also highlights how Flowers’ best lyrics are written in the third person. The first single “The Man” is half of the tolerable tracks released ahead of the album, and it’s fine. It’s a Daft Punk ode with a massively funky take that doesn’t really sound like anything else from the Killers. It’s easily a stand-out, but I still don’t know if I like it.
The album’s true highlight is “Run for Cover.” It brings the intensity of the early Killers with a surprising political edge with Flowers throwing lines like “Are your excuses any better than your senators?” and “He’s got a fake smile. He’s fake news.” For a song about running and hiding, it’s really triumphant sounding. It wouldn’t be shocking to hear the pounding bass drum and the synthy shredding every once in a while, at a club or on pop-radio.
Besides “Run For Cover” (and maybe “The Man”), Wonderful Wonderful lacks a certain replay value that something like Hot Fuss has. Even “Run For Cover” isn’t nearly as good as “Somebody Told Me.” Still, even if this all was just a fluke, I’ll listen to whatever The Killers follow this up with.