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Wonderful Wonderful

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Author: The Killers
Artist: The Killers
Label: Island

Review

In 2017, it's hard to figure out where Brandon Flowers ends and the Killers begin. Just prior to the September release of Wonderful Wonderful -- their fifth album and first in five years -- the band announced that neither bassist Mark Stoermer nor guitarist Dave Keuning would be touring in support of the record, all the while stressing that neither musician had left the group. Listening to Wonderful Wonderful, it's hard to discern their contribution because Flowers completely dominates the proceedings, to the point where this feels like a sequel not to 2012's Battle Born but to his 2015's solo album, The Desired Effect. To an extent, Flowers always has been the focus of the Killers, but at the dawn of their career they were unified in their fusion of new wave and arena rock. Ghosts of that sound flutter through Wonderful Wonderful, but they get pushed aside by disco struts, brooding celebrity name-drops, Mark Knopfler cameos, and Fleetwood Mac harmonies so uncannily real you'd swear Lindsey Buckingham guested on the record. Such odd juxtapositions and untrammeled ambition have been the Killers' stock in trade since at least Sam's Town, but the impressive thing about Wonderful Wonderful is how the Killers are able to execute Flowers' overstuffed ideas so precisely. Being able to evoke certain sounds and eras is a skill that means Wonderful Wonderful can sound diffuse, as if it's racing in opposite directions simultaneously, but that grandly inflated pomp is ingratiating not in the least because the years have proven there's not a hint of irony in Flowers' stadium-sized emotions. By this point, Flowers' obsessions and signatures are so idiosyncratic, he's clearly the auteur behind Wonderful Wonderful just as he was with The Desired Effect, and the record charms because its ridiculousness is sincere and his sincerity is ridiculous -- two qualities that make him and his art messy and quite genuine. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine