Monday, September 24, 2012

The Killers - Battle Born

"Day and Age" had an intensely modern and electronic feel. "Human" is probably the song which best evokes that feeling: galloping, swooshing, gated synths with guitar as mere accent to a Dolbyesque sound-scape for tomorrow. Battle Born sees the guitar return with a vengeance. 

Moments like the title track show that The Killers have not completely thrown out rootsier tones in favor of pure synth-pop. There is a strong arena-rock feel woven throughout the album, even at the points where guitar is absent. Shades of Eagles, shades of Bob Seger, and
add that to the underlying fact that Brandon Flowers already has a hint of Roy Orbison to him when he's really belting it out. "From here on Out" even makes The Killers sound like Springsteen, momentarily. 

There was no guarantee that The Killers would age so gracefully. "Day and Age" made it sound dangerously likely that they might end up alienating fans with the next album.
Change can be good but fans are fickle. "Battle Born" offers something that will wow the fan-base and demonstrate to skeptics that The Killers have a firm grasp on rock and
are not flash-in-the-pan posers whose musical act has collapsed under the weight of its own glam, glitter.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The XX's next move

The XX were a paradigm shift for sure. When their music hit the streets it was the aesthetic equivalent of being hit in the face with an ice cold bucket of water. The stark sound-scapes and simple, economical beats created a new benchmark for minimalism in contemporary rock music. Given the dazzle of modern production, it's always obvious when an artist eschews it. There's a sonic
hole left.

Their latest album is available to be streamed and I'm still digesting its contents. It's clear that it's at least as good as their debut but still I'm waiting to be blown away. I love it for all the same reasons I love the debut. The quiet beauty, the blase attitude, the calm. 

A wider palette of sound is used on this one, incorporating piano, more percussion, and even synth. This is a good sign. I was a little worried that whatever they did next would be built on the premise of having to remain as sparse as their debut, to the point of gimmickry. My favorite track is "Reunion" with its bright calypso against the song's otherwise pitch black background.

Here's the URL. Enjoy.