In a day and age where pessimism is the simplest viewpoint and even the most popular pop music seems downbeat and depressed, positivity can be the most radical and invigorating type of energy to evoke. That’s certainly the case for famed pop-rock act The Killers, whose new album, Imploding the Mirage, came out on Island Records on August 21 and is easily one of their best works in years.
The immense amount of optimism expressed in this album may surprise those who know The Killers only through their most famous hits. “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me,” for example, are deceptively catchy crowd-pleasers with a dark core. Even “When You Were Young” evokes a certain type of melancholic nostalgia despite its upbeat sound. One might say that Imploding the Mirage has its fair share of darkness as well. But there is one key element that sets this album apart from their others: at its core, Imploding the Mirage is about the triumph after said mirage implodes.
This sense of triumph is present from the very first track, “My Own Soul’s Warning.” Over the propulsive synth riffs that have defined their sound, Brandon Flowers explains the running concept throughout Imploding the Mirage: “I tried going against my own soul’s warning, but in the end something just didn’t feel right.” This concept of changing course after going the wrong way can easily be spun in a darker, more pessimistic manner, however The Killers buck against that interpretation at every turn, choosing instead to look forwards towards that new direction rather than back to whatever time was wasted.
The rest of the album takes its cues from the precedent set by “My Own Soul’s Warning,” and to great effect. “Dying Breed” takes an extra step beyond The Killers’ usual sound to become something almost reminiscent of Journey and other ‘80s arena rock, with lyrics that act as an affirmation and a rededication to their direction in life in spite of any opposition. “My God,” featuring Weyes Blood, addresses the idea of the album’s titular mirage. It refuses to give into the temptation of self-sabotage, showing that change, while difficult, is always possible.
The final song, which like the album is called “Imploding the Mirage,” brings together the mixed but forcefully optimistic threads of its predecessors. While their more pessimistic work is never far from this album. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of courage and doubt / To push your boundaries out beyond your imagining,” While their more pessimistic work is never far behind them, boundaries have been decidedly pushed out, even broken, in this album. For The Killers, change both internal and external is something to be fought for, welcomed, and celebrated. The mirage has imploded and though there is a hint of sorrow that not every part of life can follow you after that implosion, the overall attitude is one of positivity and joy.
The Killers, https://www.thekillersmusic.com/photos
Bridget is a graduate from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where she majored in English and minored in Theatre Arts. Her musical tastes range from Broadway musicals to anarcho-punk, and she has edited and helped run multiple zines and writing festivals. She is currently pursuing a career in editing and publishing.