The Killers have, to date, six studio albums. Beginning in 2004 with Hot Fuss, and most recently Imploding The Mirage, earlier this year. The Killers’ also have a Direct Hits album, released in 2013, and another popular album, Sawdust, was released in 2007. Sawdust was comprised mostly of covers and experimental sounds. For this review, I will only be discussing the bands’ official studio albums. Below is my ranking of each of the six albums.
1) Imploding The Mirage (2020)
As with any artist, The Killers’ albums are often a mixed bag. One stood out differently to me though. Imploding The Mirage is the only Killers’ album that doesn’t have any tracks on it that I want to skip. Even now, a couple of months after the album was released, I listen to it all the way through regularly. It maintains its magic and the dramatic crescendos keep me wanting more.
Each track has something different about it that draws you in, especially “Fire In Bone”. While they all feel alike in their energy and references (featherweight queens, trashy towns, etc.), it is clear that each one is telling you a different tale.
Aside from technical considerations, this album is just a lot of fun. Some people might think the tracks are a little bit too cheesy, but for me, I was just glad to hear their energy and fun come back. I also appreciate some of the social messages hidden within. Blowback, especially, feels like a comment on some of the problems we face today as a society.
Finally, I can’t write about this album without mentioning the fantastic collaborations this album features. With one track (“My God”) giving us beautiful notes from Weyes Blood, and another (“Lightning Fields”) bringing haunting vocals from K. D. Lang, these are, in my opinion, the most exciting Killers’ collaborations to date. “Lightning Fields” especially gives you something special. This album already has an incredibly positive reception. The album spent a week at number one (according to the Official Charts) immediately after its release and has now been in the charts for eight weeks.
I can’t stress enough how much I love each song on this album individually—a rarity in the world of albums. Let’s see how it stands up against the passing of time.
2) Day and Age (2008)
Perhaps a controversial second choice, Day and Age brings me both pleasure and pain. “Spaceman” and “A Dustland Fairytale” have always been two of my favourite Killers songs. However, these are the only tracks on the album that I find outstandingly memorable.
Day and Age, of course, also includes “Human”, one of The Killers most popular songs. I find it interesting that “Human” did so well, being so apart from the usual sound the band sticks to. This being said, it is a beautiful song, and it is well-deserving of its recognition.
When I go back and re-listen to the album all the way through, even though the three tracks mentioned above are the only ones that really stand out, the remaining songs are really good quality, and I can’t fault them a bit. I find everything easy to listen to and never find myself skipping tracks. For this reason, this album remains my second choice. It had always been my favourite until Imploding The Mirage came and knocked them off the top spot.
Another thing that stands out to me about Day and Age is the lyrics. Flowers never fails to write beautiful lyrics, but the ones in this album are particularly exquisite. We have wordplay and energy in “Spaceman“, pain and beauty in “A Dustland Fairytale“, and grammatical play, rawness and emotion behind “Human”. There is a real sense that this album means something personal to not only the writers but to the people who hear the songs and fall in love with them. I would go so far as to say that Day and Age might be The Killers’ most emotional album.
Ultimately, Day and Age holds a lot of memories for me, and even if some tracks aren’t produced quite to my liking, the album holds up against the scrutiny of time.
3) Sam’s Town (2006)
Sam’s Town is a solid third choice. Honestly, my second and third place albums are largely interchangeable.
My favourite thing about this album is the consistency. You can leave it on repeat in the background and nothing is jarring or disappointing. Equally though, most of the songs don’t particularly stand out to me. “When You Were Young” and “Read My Mind” are the exceptions. Both of these tracks are timeless for me, and will likely remain on my frequently played list for all eternity.
When this album came out I was only seven, but it was the first Killers album I was familiar with. I feel like it holds certain memories for me. “This River is Wild” and “Where The White Boys Dance” used to be real tunes to me in my youth (honestly? They still get me dancing). There’s such a cool vibe to the whole album, and I always feel calmer for having listened to it—despite its rock roots.
Musically, there is a lot of gentle rock here. You can hear the influences and the passion in the backing tracks. A large part of The Killers’ vibe as a whole is the energy and the passion—here that is particularly present.
4) Hot Fuss (2004)
Similarly to Day and Age, there are some tracks on Hot Fuss that don’t pull me in. One of these, shockingly, is “Mr Brightside”. Although I recognise this track as the undying anthem that it is, there is something about it that just doesn’t resonate right with me. Naturally, this feeling extends to “Miss Atomic Bomb”, although that comes later.
Of course, I will sing along to it at parties like everybody else, but this wasn’t the song that sold The Killers to me. The stand out tracks for me here are “Somebody Told Me” and “Smile Like You Mean It”. Both have haunting melodies and catchy lyrics. I dare you to listen to either song and manage not to hum it for the rest of the day afterward.
Many people list this as their favourite Killers album, but it just didn’t absorb me in the way that I hoped. I wasn’t old enough to be aware of the music at the time of release, perhaps if it came out now and I heard it for the first time I would feel differently. As things stand though, this album was not really a hit for me; it felt familiar as I grew up before I was really into music in any meaningful way.
That being said, I could happily listen to “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll” and “All These Things That I Have Done” all day long.
5) Wonderful Wonderful (2017)
For most Killer’s fans, these final two albums ranking last should not be a shock, more of a consensus. They are this way around for one simple reason. “The Man” has all the power and glory of a pop song, with all the grace and fun of Flowers’ writing. It pulled back what was, for me, a disappointing album.
I also really like “Run For Cover”, the albums first promotional single. This song is fun and has a real drive behind it. Though there is nothing about it that truly sets it apart from other similar popular music from the time. 2017 gave us some great albums, and The Killers’ were struggling to compete for a place in my music library at that time. Imploding The Mirage made me all the happier when the band came back with such a bang.
Despite my personal opinions, some critical reviews labelled Wonderful Wonderful as one of the bands’ best records.
6) Battle Born (2012)
It brings me no joy to say this, but, as much as I adore The Killers, there was not one track from Battle Born that I truly loved. “Runaways“ is a great easy listening or background song, but there was nothing extraordinary about it for me. While, the first time I listened to this album, I loved it, it faded and lost its life for me. It was one of those songs that you play on repeat for a few days and then forget about. I’m sure going back now I’d love to hear it again (in fact, I will have to re-add it to my playlist now), but it still feels like it is missing something.
I just didn’t find myself enchanted by these songs in the way that I usually am when I listen to Killers’ music.
“The Way it Was” is a good song, but not great. It is easy listening, it has a catchy tune, and it makes me feel happy. However, it isn’t particularly unique compared to the other songs on The Killers’ portfolio, so this alone doesn’t bring the album back for me. “Miss Atomic Bomb”, featuring the same riff as “Mr Brightside”, is perhaps the biggest hit from this album, but for me, again, it misses the mark.
I don’t have much else to say about this album. I only listened to it all the way through twice because it just wasn’t for me. None of the songs on it are particularly weak, but the bundle as a whole felt lacking in something.
Of course, everything about music is subjective and I know there are die-hard Wonderful Wonderful fans out there. Whatever you like, keep singing and dancing.