Battle Born, the first album from the Killers in four years, is an interesting journey. On the one hand it is reminiscent of their classic style laid down on Hot Fuss, while on the other hand it feels like a continuation of the more melodic, operatic style used on Day & Age. It opens with ‘Flesh and Bone’, which sets the overall tone of the album as a motivating, powerful collection of songs that seem to yell, “Get up, get out, and live!” This is, of course, interlaced with the typical Killers’ lovelorn lyrics, and backed by heavy drums reminiscent of military marching bands, creating an intriguing dichotomy of moods that work surprisingly well together.
The overall feel of grandeur on the album is emphasised by the lengthiness of most tracks. Whilst this can occasionally cause the songs to feel somewhat too drawn-out, as in Heart of a Girl, the overall effect is rather positive, and creates complex songs that have some real substance. On the flip-side, some songs can feel over-complicated, with too many musical tracks fighting for attention. This issue is particularly audible in the first two songs, ‘Flesh and Bone’ and ‘Runaways’.
Interestingly, particular attention should be given to the only shorter-than-average track on the record, ‘From Here On Out’. It is perfectly timed, skipping an instrumental intro in favour of jumping straight into a verse which ramps seamlessly into the chorus, and does not lose momentum for the duration of the song. It is a great respite from the rest of the album, which can be somewhat overbearing at times.
On the whole, the album feels like it really comes into its own the further through it you get. The first few songs, while thoroughly enjoyable, have a tendency to feel a little overblown. Once you get to ‘A Matter of Time’, the ride becomes much smoother, and the jagged transitions of the previous songs steadily abate. The middle of the album, including ‘Deadlines and Commitments’ and ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’, is the best segment, but this does not mean the rest is bad. Low-key ballads ‘Heart of a Girl’ and ‘Be Still’ provide great contrast to the more powerful material, and title-track ‘Battle Born’ rounds the album off fantastically with a soothing fade-out.
Personally, I found this album very enjoyable, though it may not live up to the standards set by Hot Fuss or Day & Age. If you are a fan of this kind of music, I would highly recommend trying this album out.