Wonderful wonderful has the warmth of a drunken embrace in an air-conditioned Vegas casino lift. 

Something is amiss in the Killers camp. Two of their members have ducked out of future touring duties, while guitarist Dave Keuning has even forgotten to turn up for the album photo shoot.  In light of the other three holding up conch shells like phones who can blame him. Perhaps he was out of shot with his head in his hands instead. Meanwhile, despite Flowers’ two solo albums, there’s a sense of losing their songwriting mojo, which closing song Have all the songs been written? does nothing to dispel.

The sense of instability pervades recent interviews, but is thankfully missing from the actual record. A tentative opening title track which despite its title sounds as wonderful as having a suicidal wife, which much of the lyrics capture. Its pomposity could be U2 circa Rattle and Hum, while Life to come is the sound of New Order gatecrashing the Joshua Tree.

Despite popular opnion, Killers’ albums have always been patchy, apart from the unfairly maligned Battle Born from 2014, on which sterling songwriting was matched by ambitious production and open roads. Runaways justified admission alone, but it had the lyrical ambition a novel and its intricate melodies rewarded repeated listening.

You’ll have heard the Man. It struts about like it’s been thrown off a roundabout onto a disco dance floor, as Flowers reflects upon the (possibly) misplaced confidence of his youth. The gentle sincerity of Rut follows it perfectly.

The ballsy Tyson Vs Douglas will have Brice Springsteen flicking through his catalogue to ensure he didn’t write it in the mid-80s, but it somehow tiptoes between defiant and vulnerable without losing its balance. Some kind of love is exactly how you imagined Brandon Flowers writing a track over a Brian Eno instrumental might sound like, shortly before releasing you need to get out more. It’s the warmth of a drunken embrace in an air-conditioned Vegas casino lift.

The new wave abandonment of Out of my mind is a surprising highlight, as it cheerily echoes the synths of Mr Brightside. It’s more throwaway than they’ve recent dared and it works. Meanwhile there’s a dusty bar room band somewhere missing the Calling as its late night sleaze set closer. You can almost hear the bottles spinning through the air before a car park brawl and home to bed. But it’s splashed with enough electronic flourishes to maintain its pose.

There’s a blur developing between Flowers’ solo albums and the Killers, but if Wonderful wonderful is the sound of a crisis in confidence then there’s more fuel in the band’s tank than recent problems suggest.

My debut novel, The Life Assistance Agency – selected by WHSmith Fresh Talent 2017 –  is available here – http://myBook.to/lifeassistance . It features a great deal of music.

and here

http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-life-assistance-agency,thomas-hocknell-9781911129035

and on ebook here –