I Meant To Listen To: The Killers, “Wonderful Wonderful”

Before the world as we currently know it shifted into uncertainty, I was on the cusp of purchasing ticket to see The Killers, a band I have not yet had a chance to see perform live. As to be expected, the show in particular and everything else has been shelved for the foreseeable future. With a forced shutdown, things took a stark reexamination and what I had deemed very important to me weeks ago pales in comparison to what is truly essential.

I’m fortunate enough to be in good health and generally good spirits and I have the privilege to use my suddenly gained available free time to continue the pursuits of creative endeavors. So while I am unable to see The Killers, or any band for that matter, play in a professional sports arena, or anywhere else in a few months, I am still able to dive into their catalogs to commit songs into my subconscious, or to discover deeper cuts I could have otherwise missed.

Like most people my age, we witnessed The Killers’ meteoric debut in 2004, Hot Fuss. It helped usher in an era of hook-driven stadium rock with seasoned with some new wave and a pinch electro-pop. It became an instant classic due to the massive hits of “Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me”, and the anthemic “All These Things That I’ve Done”. These three songs alone would be enough to cast a shadow too big for most bands to escape, but not The Killers. 

Approaching nearly two decades as a band, The Killers were about to embark on a tour off of their yet-to-be released album, Imploding The Mirage (May 2019). But now we’re here, staring at our devices waiting for the world to return to some semblance of normal. In the meantime, I have decided to take this opportunity to check out their last release, 2017’s Wonderful Wonderful.

It’s as if it was meant to be.

The listener’s introduction to the album is a desolate brooding bass line and it fills the room with despair. “Wonderful Wonderful” may feel like a departure of sorts for the band, but to me I have always found Brandon Flowers to posses some sort of preacher qualities. Whether it’s filled with the glittery glitz Showcase of the Vegas strip, or a repent for the rapture found in the desolate shacks lost amongst the desert sands that surround Sin City, Flowers knows his abilities and is in full control here.

In a time of an unsure future, many (including myself) are looking for some sort of hope, or stability to stay sane and push through. Hearing the downtrodden “Wonderful Wonderful” come to its zenith feels like everything we’ve experienced over the last tumultuous eight weeks coming together to show itself a lonely road amongst the dust settling. Perhaps it’s one of those empty roads in the middle on nowhere, but maybe it’s a way out.

On that road we’ll be reminded of the better times, and what better way to jog our memory that listening to “The Man”? If you are suddenly motivated by this track and find yourself strutting along to the sultry grooves, then I have nothing left to tell you. Every time I’m listening to “The Man”, I feel like I should have a half dozen side hustles and swimming is assets, you know the things we are being shamed on social media for not “grinding” hard enough. It’s time for a reset from the toxicity of what we’ve put ourselves though with our constant comparisons to each other. I’ve got gas in the tank and a little money in the bank. I, too, am the man.

Now I wasn’t expecting to reach a spiritual connection to Wonderful Wonderful, but everything feels different. Not quite wonderful, but different. Difficult and frustrating and horribly humbling. But to quote the opening lines of “Life To Come”,

Didn’t see this coming, I admit it

But if you think I’ll buckle, forget it

And, man, did I really need to hear this.

What really sold me on Wonderful Wonderful is how The Killers command your attention with such ease. The band can make everything larger than life without the listener catching on until they are entirely immersed. Fully engaging with a killer driving backbeat, the album takes on a Bruce Springsteen-ian element with songs like “Life To Come” and “Run For Cover”.

What took it over the top was “Tyson vs. Douglas”, a song referencing one of the most shocking upsets in sports history. Being a kid and finding out that the invincible Mike Tyson lost at that is still tough to believe all these years later. It was if the world stopped for a beat it order for a readjustment. However, the pacing of this song feels exactly like a page out of Springsteen’s playbook and gives him a run for his money. The little guitar lick throughout the second verse is downright perfect and probably my favorite part of the entire album. It’s the little things like that which transport us, and The Killers can do it flawlessly.

I know things will be back to normal one day. When it does, I’ll get my ticket to finally see The Killers perform and I will be among the twenty thousand singing in unison and yes, there will be a moment where we’ll all close our eyes- just to stop the tears.

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