Every album needs a narrative, either one that is laced throughout its tracks or leads up to its creation — the “comeback album,” the “follow-up to the breakthrough,” etc. In the case of the Killers’ brand-new Battle Born, the latter is very much the case. It is the first album since their self-imposed “hiatus” and has been painted as such by fans and critics alike … a fact that’s proven rather frustrating to the Killers themselves, who see their latest as less of a return and more of the next step in a career entering its second decade.
“The whole thing was made out to be a little bit gloomier than it really was; we always knew we were going to make another record. We just took more time off than we’ve ever taken,” frontman Brandon Flowers sighed. “I think it was [guitarist Dave] Keuning’s fault, this whole ’hiatus’ thing. I saw an interview once and I was like ’This is where it all comes from!’ They caught [him] on a bad day, and that’s where it all started.”
“I actually didn’t know what ’hiatus’ meant,” drummer Ronnie Vannucci deadpanned.
In fact, during their 18-month break, the Killers didn’t disappear from music at all. Flowers released his first solo album, Flamingo, Vannucci made a record with his side-project Big Talk and bassist Mark Stoermer put out an album of his own, Another Life. And, in between all that, they met occasionally for lunch, too (“We used to go to McDonald’s, but Ronnie stopped eating meat,” Flowers laughed. “So those trips were less frequent.”)
Bottom line, the Killers always intended to return, and as the songs on Battle Born (in stores Tuesday) prove, they haven’t lost a step. Full of big, bold songs that reach for the sky and dive deep into the desert dust, it is perhaps their most fully realized effort to date, an album of considerable size and scope that truly never loses sight of the band’s blue-collar past, or their standing as one of America’s foremost rock outfits. And despite Flowers’ recent niceties in the press , it’s clear that his ego remains as sizeable as ever: on Battle Born, his band are clearly still aiming to take over the world.
“We weren’t born like this; we come from normal families, working-class families, and we’ve never really lost sight of that,” he said. “This album is a celebration … we’re beyond all that worry and now it’s a celebration; this is what we are, we are from here, we’re proud of it, this is the music we like, here you go. I don’t think there should be anything wrong with loving your country a little bit, having a little patriotism. My love for people doesn’t stop at the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, or above Montana; it’s just, without borders.”