Alex Lahey – Love You Like a Brother

Following up last year’s excellent B-Grade University EP, the debut album from Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Alex Lahey is a fantastic amount of fun. It’s filled with clever lyrics, energetic instrumentation, big hooks and maybe my favourite song title of the year (‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’) – basically, it just ticks all the boxes.

I Love You Like a Brother is incredibly consistent across its ten tracks, offering up punchy song after punchy song. The opening stretch is particularly strong – with lead single and album opener ‘Every Day’s the Weekend’ exemplifying Lahey’s appeal really well. It isn’t the sort of song that tries to reinvent the wheel, but instead, I guess, just succeeds in making a really good wheel. It’s amazing how on-point everything is here; the lyrics are fun and memorable (‘Fuck work, you’re here, every day’s the weekend’) and the song’s sound progresses just enough to stay interesting. Sure, it doesn’t really break free from the usual verse-chorus-verse structure, but Lahey and her guitar barrel through it with such energy that it doesn’t really matter.

Things don’t let up for a while after the opener, with ‘I Love You Like a Brother’ and ‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’ being similarly punchy. Both tracks are big and catchy like ‘Every Day’s the Weekend’ (‘I love you like brother, just like I oughta‘) and they also do a good job of showing off the cleverness of Lahey’s songwriting. On ‘I Love You Like a Brother’, she breaks away from the usual love song mould, putting together a great track about sibling relationships. It has a really genuine and honest feel to it. ‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’, on the other hand, is technically another song about love – but Lahey frames it cleverly. Rather than talk about the break up the track is about directly, she filters it through her relationship with the city where it happened: ‘Perth is lucky that she’s pretty, otherwise I’d hate that city.’

And this is the main appeal of I Love You Like a Brother for me; Lahey does a fantastic job of balancing the cleverness and emotion in her lyrics. Despite most of the songs on here being about relationships – not exactly an original topic – they never feel generic. ‘I Want U’ opens with a string of close observations about a guy Lahey is enamoured with (‘You’re the kind of person who likes the go to the movies alone’) which really helps bring the song to life. The people she sings about always have a sense of character to them – they don’t feel like the faceless love interests you get in a lot of pop songs these days – which is something I appreciate. The way she gets her emotions across is also great. Like I said, relationships are not exactly an original subject-matter, but Lahey always does a good job of expressing her feelings for someone without resorting to clichés, such as on the hook on ‘Backpack’: ‘I find it hard to put my arms around you when your backpack’s on’. It’s a bit goofy, but it feels really genuine.

‘There’s No Money’, easily the album’s slowest song, is also its saddest. It abandons the fun pop-punk energy that’s present throughout most of the album in favour of a more ballad-like feel. The lyrics here are great as always – with Lahey dwelling on the fear that her life is going nowhere – but it does a particularly good job of showing her great use of sound. The song starts off quiet, with only vocals, a guitar and a drum machine beat – reflecting on the lonely feel of the lyrics. But things begin to build on the second verse, with the drum kit, bass guitar and even some choral backing vocals coming in. Eventually, things come to a big finish, closing out the album really nicely.

I Love You Like a Brother is incredibly consistent, especially for a debut album. Even the album’s weaker songs (like ‘Awkward Exchange’) are hard to dislike too much. Everything moves along quickly, there are only a couple of songs that go over the four-minute mark, meaning that Lahey doesn’t give you enough time to get bored with one sound before she moves onto the next one. Bottom line: it’s a fantastic album that you should check out. I can’t wait to see where she goes next.

Best Tracks: ‘Every Day’s the Weekend’, ‘I Want U’, ‘There’s No Money’.

Advertisements

Wild Beasts – Punk Drunk & Trembling

 

Last month, UK art rock band Wild Beasts announced they were splitting. Personally, as a huge fan of their work, it was depressing news. Though their last album, 2016’s Boy King, was by far their weakest (it felt like the band were trying too hard to gain more mainstream appeal), it was by no means awful. I hoped the band would bounce back from its lukewarm reaction, but instead they’re breaking up, leaving behind one final release – an EP made up of leftover songs from the Boy King recording sessions.

Given that this is Punk Drunk & Trembling’s background, it’s not surprising that the EP feels thrown together. Only one song on it is actually new – the title one – with the other two having been released previously as bonus tracks on Boy King’s deluxe edition. On one hand, it’s a shame that such a consistently fantastic band is ending things with a release that honestly feels very inessential… But then again, on the other hand, I suppose it’s better than nothing.

‘Punk Drunk & Trembling’ is the EP’s main highlight. Though it’s a leftover Boy King track, it’s surprisingly better than at least half of what made it onto the album. (Though I can see realistically that there’s nowhere in the tracklist that it would’ve fit in naturally.) The song does a great job of combining the swaggering masculinity of the band’s last album with the more vulnerable and emotional sound found on their earlier releases. Hayden Thorpe’s vocals on the track have a real sadness to them, as do the synths that linger in the background. The lyrics are also incredibly melancholy – ‘Why dry the tongue, what’s done is done’ – which helps the song feel like a fitting parting note for the band.

The other two songs, while not bad, definitely do feel like leftovers. Like ‘Punk Drunk & Trembling’, a big part of why they didn’t make it onto Boy King is because they don’t fit the album’s mood – yet, unlike it, they also don’t really surpass any of the songs that did make it on. ‘Maze’ is the better of the two; it’s the most stripped-back song the band have put out in years, placing all emphasis on Tom Fleming’s vocals. That’s not entirely a bad thing, because Fleming’s vocals are fantastic as always – it’s just that there’s nothing particularly interesting going on here. You can find similarly low-key Fleming-led songs on Smother or Present Tense that are more powerful lyrically and more interesting instrumentally.

‘Last Night All My Dreams Came True’ fares worse though. Sandwiched between two much sadder tracks, it doesn’t fit the EP’s overall mood well or the circumstances surrounding its release. Driven by a squelchy drum beat, the song sort of meanders along. The only thing I can really say in its favour is the vocal interplay between Fleming and Thorpe, but even that isn’t particularly great. Both of them sound bored on the track and it’s not difficult to see why.

At only ten minutes long, there isn’t a lot to take away from Punk Drunk & Trembling. The title track hints at what direction the band might’ve taken next, but unfortunately we’ll never know for sure. Even if this isn’t the send-off that a band as good as Wild Beasts deserves, it is – as I said before – better than nothing.

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

MASSEDUCTION is an album full of contradictions. It’s St. Vincent’s most unabashedly poppy album and yet it also feels like her weirdest one. It’s loud and blaring in places and quiet and tender in others. It’s fun – and it’s also heartbreaking. If it’s not Annie Clark’s best album, it’s at least safe to say that it’s her most interesting one.

With 2014’s self-titled release, it felt like Clark had perfected St. Vincent’s sound. Songs like ‘Birth In Reverse’ and ‘Digital Witness’ felt like cumulations of the weird style she had been striving for from her very first album… So where could she really go next? In answering this question, MASSEDUCTION takes two different paths; half of the album sees St. Vincent go even further down the weirdness rabbit-hole, while the other half shows her taking things in an incredibly stripped down and emotionally honest direction. The divide between these two styles is the album’s greatest strength and its great weakness… It almost feels like Clark is torn between two worlds.

The album’s first half is full of that distinctive St. Vincent weirdness, with tracks like ‘Los Ageless’ and ‘Pills’ being pretty much instant classics for her. ‘Los Ageless’ has all the usual makings of a solid St. Vincent single – the thumping drum machine, the wailing synths, the distorted guitar riffs – and could’ve easily fit onto Clark’s last album. ‘Pills’ is similarly great. Sound-wise, it has a great childlike feel to it, with the peppy synths and Cara Delevingne’s chanting chorus vocals (‘Pills, pills, pills, every day of the week’). I also appreciate the shift that the song takes towards its end, avoiding a big finish in favour of a gorgeous and soft acoustic guitar-led breakdown.

‘Masseduction’ is another of the album’s best ‘weird’ songs, even if there isn’t that much to it. It basically centres around a single line which Clark chants over and over (‘I can’t turn off what turns me on’), but it’s such a great mantra for St. Vincent that I don’t really mind the repetition. But while the high level of repetition works on this track, it doesn’t really on ‘Sugarboy’ – easily the album’s weakest track. While it’s not completely awful – Clark’s seductive delivery on the verses is particularly good – the loud, obnoxious chanting of ‘BOYS’ and ‘GIRLS’ does get old incredibly fast.

As I said before, MASSEDUCTION feels like it’s split between two worlds – and this becomes increasingly clear in the album’s second half. Apart from ‘Fear The Future’ and ‘Young Lover’, every track has a quiet, intimate feel to it, with Clark being as emotionally open as she’s ever been before. There’s even a couple of piano ballads – a far cry from the eccentricity usually associated with St. Vincent. The first of these, ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’, is heart-wrenching and shows just how good a storyteller Clark can be. It demonstrates that there’s a lot more to her appeal beyond her unique instrument choices. The second of these ballads, ‘New York’ – which centres on Clark’s break-up with actress Cara Delevingne – is slightly weaker overall, but just as emotionally raw: ‘You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me.’

The album’s closing tracks dial up Clark’s emotional openness even further, delivering some of the artist’s most down-right depressing work. A common problem I’ve had with St. Vincent’s past albums is that they felt like they ran out of steam (or solid songs) before the end – this is especially true with 2014’s self-titled release. MASSEDUCTION, however, avoids this problem by saving its best tracks till last. The lyrics to ‘Slow Disco’ are beautifully sad (‘Slip my hand from your hand and leave you dancing with a ghost’) and the string arrangements that hang in the background just intensify this. It’s a moving break up song that again shows how powerful Clark can be even when she strips back her sound. ‘Smoking Section’, the album’s closer, is somehow even more depressing and just makes you want to give Annie a hug. She knocks herself down pretty heavily – with there even being some suicidal imagery – leading to one her most powerful and difficult to listen to songs.

And it’s the emotional honesty on tracks like this one that really makes the album for me. It’s easily St. Vincent’s messiest and most inconsistent release, containing some of her most forgettable songs, but it also feels like one of her most important ones. And besides, break ups are messy – so shouldn’t an album born out of one be messy too?

Best Tracks: ‘Los Ageless’, ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’, ‘Smoking Section’.

The Essentials Of St. Vincent

St. Vincent’s new album MASSEDUCTION came out last Friday and, in short, it’s great. (Expect a full review sometime soon…) In the build-up to its release, I decided to go back over the artist’s older releases and was struck by just how good they all are. I’ve always thought of St. Vincent/Annie Clark as a great artist, but revisiting those albums reminded me just how great she is.

As an outlet for gushing about Clark’s work a little bit, I thought I’d put together a post detailing the best songs to start with for anyone looking to get into St. Vincent. Her back catalogue isn’t exactly huge (five solo albums and a collaboration album with David Byrne) but it can sometimes be hard to know where to start when listening to someone for the first time. St. Vincent’s discography, as you’d expect, is best listened to in chronological order starting with her first album Marry Me but these ten songs should hopefully offer a great overview of her sound as an artist. They’re not necessarily my favourite St. Vincent songs, more the ones that best sum up what she’s all about.

I’ve also refrained from including any songs from MASSEDUCTION, simply because of how new it is. Besides, I’ll be talking about the album in-depth soon anyway… So, let’s get to it.

‘Now Now’ (from Marry Me)

Okay; maybe the first song from the first album is a bit of an obvious one to start with, but I found it impossible to miss this one off. Compared with St. Vincent’s later work, most of the material on Marry Me is pretty straight-forward – ‘Now Now’ included. It definitely feels like slightly more of a typical singer-songwriter release. That said, there are still signs of Clark’s love of strangeness and messing with expectations on the album and in the track. The chanting child-like backing vocals, the off-key sounding keyboard, the flickers of menace in Clark’s vocal delivery… Not to mention the fantastic guitar freak-out at the end of the song. It’s a great track that hints St. Vincent isn’t as straight-forward as the innocent-looking album artwork might suggest…

‘Your Lips Are Red’ (from Marry Me)

For a first album, Marry Me is incredibly consistent. I could make an argument for just about any of its songs having a place on this list… but none more so than ‘Your Lips Are Red’. The song has gone on to become St. Vincent’s go-to set closer and it’s not hard to see why. The track oozes with tension, thanks to some particularly ominous strings and unnerving piano key jabs. Clark’s vocals are also worth mentioning. As I said, there were flickers of menace on ‘Now Now’, but with ‘Your Lips Are Red’ it feels like Clark might explode at any second. And just as it seems like that explosion might take place, the instruments lighten, the vocals soften and the song progresses to an almost dreamy state. A real album stand-out.

‘Actor Out Of Work’ (from Actor)

Actor feels like a pretty natural progression from Marry Me, continuing to blend soft sounds with aggressive ones in a way that shouldn’t work but somehow does. It’s also more ambitious and more diverse, with Clark trying out a number of different styles as shown by ‘Actor Out Of Work’. At only two minutes long, the song doesn’t waste any time – driven by a propulsive drumbeat and a fantastically glitchy guitar. Though it moves quickly, there’s a lot going on; it’s easy to overlook the cleverness of Clark’s lyrics as well as the many great instrumental touches. Part of me wishes it was longer, but then again its brevity is what makes it so good.

‘Marrow’ (from Actor)

No other track on Actor demonstrates how well Clark is at bringing gentle and clean instruments together with heavy and distorted ones. The song opens fluttery and soft – resembling the soundtrack to a Disney film – before Clark’s vocals darken the tone. The song’s lyrics are unsettling as it is (‘Muscle connects to the bone / And bone to the ire and marrow’) and Clark’s delivery just intensifies things. Things eventually blow up on the chorus when Annie’s guitar, chugging in the background in the song’s opening, bursts out in all its distorted glory. It sounds downright ugly, but somehow St. Vincent makes it work.

‘Chloe In The Afternoon’ (from Strange Mercy)

The opener to St. Vincent’s third album sets the tone perfectly. Gone are the soft acoustic instruments that dominated much of Clark’s last two albums, ditched in favour of alien-sounding synths and sharp drum machine beats. In many ways, Strange Mercy feels like St. Vincent coming into her own – she knows what sound she wants and she knows how to get it. ‘Chloe In The Afternoon’ somehow manages to be unsettling and strangely sexy at the same time, with Clark singing of black pearls and horse-hair whips. Though it’s not hard to work out what’s being sung about, there’s a beautiful vagueness and languidness to the lyrics that helps the song sound unlike anything else.

‘Cruel’ (from Strange Mercy)

If there’s one consistent theme throughout St. Vincent’s discography, it’s the idea of the outsider. Many of the artist’s best songs sing in favour of fighting against the social norm and society’s standards. You can see this pretty clearly on Marry Me’s title track, in which Clark touches on matrimony in a sarcastic tone (‘Marry me, John, I’ll be so good to you / You won’t realise I’m gone’) and ‘Cruel’ in many ways feels like that song’s sequel. On the opening she sings, ‘Bodies, can’t you see what everybody wants from you?’, touching on the way that women are objectified by society, being told that becoming a wife and mother is the only thing they can aspire for. As the song’s chorus puts it best: ‘How could they be so casually cruel?’

‘Surgeon’ (from Strange Mercy)

Another standout from Strange Mercy, ‘Surgeon’ again addresses the idea of the outsider. The song is based around a quote from Marilyn Manson’s diary which also serves as its hook (‘Best finest surgeon, come cut me open’). The lyric is uncomfortable by itself, but Clark’s calm then panicked delivery and the woozy synths in the background (almost replicating the feeling of being ‘put under’) just make things all the more unsettling. The quote connects Clark to Manson, with her identifying herself as a freak or anomaly – something to be cut open, dissected and examined.

‘Who’ (from Love This Giant)

In relation to the rest of Annie Clark’s discography, Love This Giant feels like a bit of a detour. A collaboration with legendary Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, the album takes things in a different, almost jazzy direction. Clark’s signature guitar is also nowhere to be found. Despite this, the album is still worth checking out – lead single ‘Who’ in particular. Though straight-forward by St. Vincent standards, the song is infectiously fun, focusing on the interplay between Byrne and Clark’s vocals. And come on, it’s Annie Clark and David Byrne – how can you not love it?

‘Digital Witness’ (from St. Vincent)

The fact that St. Vincent’s fourth album is self-titled really says it all; this is St. Vincent’s sound without any moderation or compromise – none of the weirdness held back. Just like on Strange Mercy, Clark is fully confident in her sound here, leading to some truly great tracks like ‘Digital Witness’. The song, St. Vincent’s biggest hit to date, carries over some of the brass instruments from Love This Giant, using them to create an alien atmosphere rather than a jazzy one. The lyrics are also some of the artist’s best, with Clark labelling television viewers as ‘digital witnesses’ – addressing the strangeness of how TV allows us to feel connected and involved in events that have nothing to do with us. ‘Digital Witness’ demonstrates how St. Vincent, with all her strangeness, can be incredibly poppy and accessible as well.

‘I Prefer Your Love’ (from St. Vincent)

Through these songs, I’ve painted Clark as someone who excels at strangeness – exploring sounds and ideas that other artists might not touch… But as this track shows, she’s also incredibly good at writing songs that are beautiful in a much more simple and pure way. Written for her mother, ‘I Prefer Your Love’ uses St. Vincent’s usual instrumental palette to create a gentle mood rather than an aggressive one, with lyrics that are straight-forwardly moving rather than clever: ‘All the good in me is because of you’. It strips back Clark’s St. Vincent persona in a way, being an incredibly personal moment. It’s a real album highlight, demonstrating her fantastic range as an artist.

Give these songs a listen through the playlist below, and be sure to look out for a review of St. Vincent’s new album sometime soon…

 

Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life

Ah, Wolf Alice… Even if you’re not a fan, you’ve got to admire them. On their first album, they refused to be pigeonholed into any one genre, covering everything from fuzzy garage rock to dream pop and shoegaze. Compare the woozy and poppy ‘Bros’ with the snarling and distorted ‘Giant Peach’ and it’s kind of hard to tell they’re both from the same band. An album that changes its sound so drastically with every song shouldn’t work, but somehow My Love Is Cool did.

Visions Of A Life follows the same basic formula, retaining the same scattershot style. Though Wolf Alice do stretch out into a couple new genres across the album (‘Sadboy’ has an almost folk-rock feel to it), a lot of the songs here do feel like they could’ve sat on the band’s debut.

And overall, it’s a good, solid – if sometimes uneven – album. There are plenty of great songs here, such as the breezy and incredibly catchy ‘Beautifully Unconventional’. It’s a cutesy pop song thats only real fault is it only lasts two minutes – though I suppose it’s better than if it overstayed its welcome. ‘Heavenward’ is another highlight, one of the band’s dreamiest efforts to date. On it, Ellie Roswell addresses a deceased friend with some of the most moving lyrics the band have put out: ‘Yeah, I’m gonna celebrate you forever / And long to see you when it’s my turn.’ There are also plenty of great rock songs on the album as well, particularly ‘Formidable Cool’, on which Roswell sings about a woman seduced into a Charles Manson-like cult. Like ‘You’re A Germ’ from My Love Is Cool, it plays off the contrast between her smooth whispering vocal style and much harsher one. It’s an unusual track, but the band pull it off incredibly well.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the album though is Roswell’s embrace of stream of consciousness style lyrics. There’s definitely a loose feel to the writing on Visions Of A Life, and it leads to some really great songs like lead single ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’. Though the song borders on being sappy – with Roswell rambling about a crush in an ad-lib style – it’s really hard not to love. It’s goofy and cliché-ridden (‘I might as well write over my notebook that you rock my world’), but it’s aware that it is and aware that having a crush on someone is a lot like that. It’s the sort of song that you want to hate, but really can’t help but like.

‘Sky Musings’ employs a similar stream of consciousness style, but adopts a much darker tone. The dreamy guitars on ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ are replaced with an ominous drumbeat, with Roswell lyric focusing on plane flight anxiety rather than love. The instrumentation and the lyrics really gel well together, creating a unique mood. ‘Yuk Foo’ is another track with an unmoderated feel to its lyrics, though in my opinion, it’s a lot less successful than ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ and ‘Sky Musings’. It comes across as too immature and childish (I mean, you just need to look at the title…), not really saying anything particularly interesting.

As expected, Wolf Alice don’t really make an effort to narrow down their sound on Visions Of A Life, instead complicating it even further. And that’s not a bad thing. While the album falters on a few tracks, it’s a fun ride overall and the highs are definitely high enough to make it worth a listen.

Best Tracks: ‘Beautifully Unconventional’, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, ‘Formidable Cool’

 

The Sherlocks – Live for the Moment

It’s ironic; the main problem I have with Live for the Moment, the debut album from UK indie rockers The Sherlocks, is that it doesn’t feel like the band are living for the moment. On the album, the band suffer from sounding like just about every other popular UK indie rock act (Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Kooks, Sundara Karma…) It’s in the tone of the guitars, Kiaran Cook’s vocals and especially the lyrics, which focus on what it’s like to be aimless and young. They don’t do much to try and stand out from the crowd and because of this, you’ll feel like you’ve heard most of their songs before.

That’s not to say that it’s an awful album – there are definitely some decent songs here. Tracks like ‘Chasing Shadows’ and ‘Last Night’ are undeniably catchy and fun, featuring some energetic performances from Crook. However, taken as a whole Live for the Moment just falls kind of flat. The band’s best songs are fun in short bursts – easy to chuck on a playlist – but listening through twelve tracks worth of The Sherlock’s sound can get a little bit dull. In only takes a few songs for déjà vu to kick in; everything just runs together a bit. The band come across as incredibly unwilling to leave their comfort zone on the album, instead of sticking to the same sound track after track (throwing in an acoustic intro here and a dramatic strings outro there).

There are some flickers of creativity and experimentation on the album, but The Sherlocks always shy away before things get too interesting. The piano riff in the second half of ‘Escapade’, the harmonica and strings on ‘Turn the Clock’, the back-and-forth vocals on ‘Last Night’… There are lots of interesting little moments like these scattered through Live for the Moment, but the band always fall back to standard guitar-heavy indie rock. ‘Nobody Knows’ is easily the album’s best track, if only because it’s the strangest one. Clocking in at just over six minutes, it shows the band breaking away from the classic verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure a little bit with a fantastic extended outro (I especially love the jangly guitars). It’s easily one of The Sherlock’s most adventurous moments.

But as I said before, unfortunately too much of the album feels routine. Every song here tells a story you’ve heard before, whether it’s a friend embarrassing themselves on a night out (‘Last Night’) or a young person trying hard not to overthink the future (‘Live for the Moment’), and features instrumentals that come across as run-of-the-mill. Despite their name, The Sherlocks are just about as straightforward as indie rock acts get.

Best Tracks: ‘Chasing Shadows’, ‘Nobody Knows’, ‘Last Night’

The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful

The Killers have always come across as a band that see themselves as being more significant than they really are. And I’m not just saying this because Brandon Flowers outright said that he thinks The Killers are the best band to emerge in the past fifteen years back in 2015 – you can feel it in most of their songs. Many of them (‘Human’ is a good example) have a certain level of gravitas to them that suggest what the band have to say is incredibly unique and profound…

In reality, many of the band’s songs have nothing interesting to say. While they do have a handful of great hits under their belt (‘Mr. Brightside’, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’, ‘When You Were Young’), The Killers seem to specialise in producing songs that are incredibly middling. Not bad, just the sort that are hard to feel any strong emotion towards. This is especially true with most of the tracks on the band’s last two releases, Day & Age and Battleborn, albums that felt like they were destined for the bargain bins as soon as each of them was released.

In this regard, The Killers’ new album is a massive step up. Wonderful Wonderful is by no means an incredible album, but it does feature some of the best songs the band has put out in over ten years.

Lead single ‘The Man’ is a lot of fun, featuring Brandon Flowers at his most self-aware. The song pokes fun at his overblown persona from the Hot Fuss days, featuring plenty of great cheesy lines (‘I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man’). The instrumentation has a certain neon-swagger to it, and there are even a few well-placed champagne cork and cash register ching sound effects in the background. It’s self-aware and silly and that’s what makes it great. Wonderful Wonderful’s other main single ‘Run For Cover’ is equally strong, having a sense of energy to it that few Killers songs seem to have these days. The verses are solid but the chorus is the real highlight, where the song really explodes. It’s just a fantastic track – one of the band’s all-time bests.

The album’s title track is also good, featuring some really gorgeous instrumentation. The echoing vocals, horns and almost tribal drums give it a psychedelic feel… It doesn’t sound like any other Killers track and shows that they’re still able to surprise every once in a while. The song’s lyrics are a little bit hacky, however. Unlike on ‘The Man’, where the lyrics are intentionally silly, the goofy lyrics on ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ are delivered in a way that suggests Flowers is being deadly serious. But it’s hard to take the lyrics seriously when there’s such an abundant use of ‘thou’, ‘thine’ and ‘thee’. (‘Motherless child, does thou believe that thine afflictions have caused us to grieve?’)

Unfortunately, Wonderful Wonderful is filled with moments like this, and on most of these songs the instrumentation isn’t interesting enough to overlook their poor lyrics (like on ‘Wonderful Wonderful’). And because of this, we get a lot of middling sort of tracks like the ones that filled up Day & Age and Battleborn. The worst of these, ironically, are called ‘Rut’ and ‘Have All The Songs Been Written?’. Despite the song’s serious subject-matter, addressing Flowers’ wife Tana’s depression, ‘Rut’ is plagued with bland lyrics and an unmemorable sound (the autotuned vocals are particularly bad). ‘Have All The Songs Been Written?’ has similar problems… And I honestly can’t think of a duller subject for a song than writer’s block.

The album does manage to shine in a few other places beyond the three highlights I’ve already mentioned, but the remainder of Wonderful Wonderful is honestly a mixed bag. ‘Tyson vs Douglas’ is one of the album’s strongest lyrical moments, having a genuinely unique and interesting focus. The Brian Eno inspired ‘Some Kind Of Love’ features a gorgeous dreamy sound that makes it hard not to like, even if it features some lyrics that border on laughably bad: ‘You got the soul of a truck on a long distance haul’. ‘Out Of My Mind’, even if it namedrops a few too many artists, also gets a pass due to its great chorus hook. Finally, ‘Life To Come’ and ‘The Calling’ fall into the forgettable Killers song group along with ‘Rut’ and ‘Have All The Songs Been Written?’.

Wonderful Wonderful isn’t as great as I’d hoped it would be – despite my criticisms, I feel like The Killers have a consistently good album in them somewhere – but there are definitely enough bright spots to make it worth recommending. Its weak moments are worth sticking out for its strong ones.

Best Tracks: ‘Wonderful Wonderful’, ‘The Man’, ‘Run for Cover’