The Killers’ ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ Isn’t, Quite

13 years after their debut, Wonderful Wonderful is a highly respectable effort from the Las Vegas band.

There are two modes that permeate this record: the anthems that strive for arena bigness and the synth-driven dance tracks. Both are fine, but all the songs are filtered through a late ’80s/early ’90s sound that recalls Sting’s “Fields of Gold.”  It was odd hearing that sound presented in a modern context, but it doesn’t distract from the songs themselves.

The album starts out with its anthemic title track “Wonderful Wonderful.” Pinned on a slow beat and a “Bullet the Blue Sky”-esque base line, the song promises a peak that is never properly executed. The wacky guitar and synth effects accompany the song begging for a peak that never hits just right, preventing a good song form becoming a great one.

This is a recurring theme with Wonderful Wonderful. There are plenty of decent songs on this album, in fact, none of them are bad, but all the songs need something to become great songs. For instance, the disco glam jam “The Man” is a perfectly good song, but the chorus never gets to the place where it needs to be.

The underwhelming melody in “Run for Cover” fails to give a hook to the new wave track that it desperately needs. The song is saved by a great watery guitar solo at the end, but that should be putting the song over, not saving it.

 

Of all the missteps this record takes, none is more baffling than the song “Tyson Vs Douglas.” The Killers start off the second half of the record with this anthemic track; okay, well enough. That fight could be used as a metaphor for how underdogs can come through from time to time, which is good material for an anthem track. That’s not the direction Brandon Flowers went, though.

For those not in the know, the match that song refers to is the boxing match where undefeated (at the time) Mike Tyson went against journeyman Buster Douglas. The match was supposed to be a cakewalk for Tyson, but he ended up losing to Douglas, which, the song reminds you, was shocking. Flowers sings, “I had to close my eyes just to stop the tears” in reference to Tyson’s defeat.

Why? Did he place money on the fight? You were sad that Mike Tyson lost? One of the most despicable men on the face of the earth in the ’90s, you were sad when he lost? I get the conceit that being shocked can shake you to your core, but what an odd analogy to use. I can’t help but feel that this song is/was supposed to be some sort of reference to the 2016 Presidential election (he does mention fake news in “Run for Cover.”)

Wonderful Wonderful comes to a close with “Have All the Songs Been Written?” (No, Brandon, they haven’t.) Fans shouldn’t take that question seriously, for the Killers do still have some gas in their tank, but they need some nitrous to make something special.

Rating: ***1/2/ 5 stars

The Killers — Tour Dates:

Sat 09/23/2017  Great Lawn | Central Park | “Global Citizen Festival” New York, NY
Sat 09/30/2017  Cricket Grounds | “Australian Football League Grand Final” Melbourne, Australia
Sun 10/08/2017  Zilker Park | “Austin City Limits Music Festival” Austin, TX
Sun 10/15/2017  Zilker Park | “Austin City Limits Music Festival” Austin, TX
Sat 10/21/2017  Steele Indian School Park | “Lost Lake Festival”
Sun 10/29/2017  New Orleans City Park | “Voodoo Music ** Arts Experience” New Orleans, LA
Mon 11/06/2017  Genting Arena ** Birmingham, United Kingdom
Tue 11/07/2017  Genting Arena ** Birmingham, United Kingdom
Fri 11/10/2017  Metro Radio Arena ** Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
Mon 11/13/2017  Manchester Arena ** Manchester, United Kingdom
Tue 11/14/2017  Manchester Arena ** Manchester, United Kingdom
Thu 11/16/2017  3Arena ** Dublin, Ireland
Fri 11/17/2017  The SSE Arena, Belfast ** Belfast, United Kingdom
Sun 11/19/2017  First Direct Arena ** Leeds, United Kingdom
Mon 11/20/2017  The SSE Hydro ** Glasgow, United Kingdom
Tue 11/21/2017  BHGE Arena ** Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Thu 11/23/2017  The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham ** Nottingham, United Kingdom

Sat 11/25/2017  Sheffield Arena ** Sheffield, United Kingdom
Mon 11/27/2017  The O2 – London ** London, United Kingdom
Tue 11/28/2017  The O2 – London ** London, United Kingdom
Fri 01/05/2018  Air Canada Centre Toronto, ON
Sat 01/06/2018  Place Bell Laval, QC
Sun 01/07/2018  TD Garden Boston, MA
Tue 01/09/2018  Barclays Center Brooklyn, NY
Wed 01/10/2018  The Anthem Washington, DC
Fri 01/12/2018  Madison Square Garden Arena New York, NY
Sat 01/13/2018  Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia, PA
Mon 01/15/2018  Masonic Temple Theatre Detroit, MI
Tue 01/16/2018  United Center Chicago, IL
Wed 01/17/2018  Xcel Energy Center Saint Paul, MN
Sun 01/21/2018  Infinite Energy Center Duluth, GA
Tue 01/23/2018  AmericanAirlines Arena Miami, FL
Wed 01/24/2018  Hard Rock Cafe / Hard Rock Live Orlando, FL
Tue 01/30/2018  Valley View Casino Center San Diego, CA
Thu 02/01/2018  Staples Center Los Angeles, CA
Fri 02/02/2018  Staples Center Los Angeles, CA
Sat 02/03/2018  MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas, NV
Mon 02/05/2018  1stBank Center Broomfield, CO
Tue 02/06/2018  Vivint Smart Home Arena Salt Lake City, UT
Fri 04/20/2018  Spark Arena Auckland, New Zealand
Sat 04/21/2018  TSB Bank Arena Wellington, New Zealand
Tue 04/24/2018  Horncastle Arena Christchurch, New Zealand
Fri 04/27/2018  Brisbane Entertainment Centre Boondall, Australia
Sat 04/28/2018  Qudos Bank Arena Sydney, Australia
Tue 05/01/2018  Perth Arena Perth, Australia
Fri 05/04/2018  Hisense Arena Melbourne, Australia

**  with Juanita Stein