Album: The Killers, Battle Born (Vertigo)

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The Independent Culture

The Killers aren't going into the Battle Born campaign brimming with overconfidence. Brandon Flowers has spoken of his concern that the band will become "obsolete" and that their fans will have "moved on".

His fears are not unfounded. For one thing, within the first 30 seconds of the band’s fourth album, you realise just how many other bands sound like the Killers now. Not that theirs was ever a startlingly original sound, but their Stadium Indie territory is dangerously overpopulated.

But what Flowers knew, when he spoke those words, was that this record would be a dud in any era. Battle Born – the name of their Las Vegas studio and a motto from the Nevada state flag – was created in fits and starts with a rolling cast of producers, but the common threads are the triumphal, twilight-of-Reagan keyboards, the widescreen vocabulary of deserts and airfields, and the never-ending echo on the vocal.

There’s always been a bit of Like Grunge Never Happened about the Killers, but there’s barely a song on Battle Born which doesn’t sound like it could play over the closing credits to The Karate Kid or Beverly Hills 90210. This is a production in search of an album, a massive empty shell, a big expensive nothing.