With seven studio albums and a string of classic hits, iconic rockers The Killers have been a force in the music world for over a decade. Dipping in and out of new wave rock and Bruce-Springsteen-troubadour, and clouded in the curious allure of Brandon Flowers, the band have upheld a steady rise since their official debut in 2004 and remain one of the biggest rock groups of the 21st century.
In celebration of the drop of their latest album Pressure Machine, we journey back through the Killers’ epic catalogue.
Hot Fuss (2004)
Praised for essentially being one hell of a debut album, Hot Fuss well and truly put The Killers on the map. Bringing an exciting burst of post-punk, new wave flair, the album introduced the world to a brand new band that weren’t afraid to take risks. Not only did the group not sound like anything on the radio at the time, but frontman Flowers was a paradox of his own. A theatrical, brilliant storyteller who was half Mormon, half a modern-day Robert Smith at the circus, it became clear that The Killers were sticking around for a while.
Inspired by The Strokes’ 2001 album Is This It, Hot Fuss is a bustling alt-rock record that remains one of The Killers’ best. With singles ‘Mr. Brightside’, ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ (all incredibly one after the other), it set the band up for an entire legacy right from the jump. Hot Fuss earned the band five Grammy nominations, went straight to number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and was voted the Best Debut Album of All Time in 2013 by Gigwise.
Sam’s Town (2006)
For their next project, the band looked a little more inwards and traded in their British indie rock personas for a Springsteen Americana. Enjoying the delights of fame from the success of their debut, Flowers wanted to capture all the chronological moments that got him from his hometown in Nevada to where he was currently standing. A raw, dusty, rock and roll album is what emerged.
If anything, Sam’s Town only further proved the musical greatness The Killers had within them. In the space of their first two albums alone, the band had already harnessed a multitude of sounds, eras and influences and spat them all back out in a new neat form. Flowers was quickly becoming the world’s greatest showman, his lyricism just getting wittier, and The Killers were on a quick rise to the top. Sam’s Town became the band’s second number 1 album, won a Brit Award for Best International Album, and was voted the Most Underrated Album of the Decade by Rolling Stone readers in 2010.
Day & Age (2008)
Experimenting with the world of electro-pop, The Killers’ third album saw them dipping into synths and disco refrains to create one big dance record. A far cry from the rustic Sam’s Town, Day & Age seemed to deal with a band who were getting a little more accustomed to the limelight, their sound beginning to reflect their surroundings. Taking inspiration from David Bowie and Duran Duran, Flowers has stated that Day & Age is like “looking at Sam’s Town from Mars.”
With massive singles ‘Human’ and ‘Spaceman’, the album showed a friskier side to the band that the world hadn’t yet seen. Flowers is really in his showman element, setting the stage and playing with sonic lights and ribbons all for our entertainment. Day & Age earned the band their third number 1 and a Best International Album nomination at the Brit Awards.
Battle Born (2012)
Going back to the postcard lifestyle of American rock, Battle Born was the product of The Killers taking some time away and dipping into solo projects before reuniting. For the most part, the album plays out like one long drive down an empty road, and maybe that’s precisely the point. Falling a little short from their stadium heights, Battle Born is more cinematic than anthemic, but still packs a decent punch.
Singles ‘Runaways’ and ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ are the backbone of the album, according to Flowers; their 80s heartland grooves the perfect soundtrack for the nostalgic. Flowers, it seems, is nostalgic too. It’s just unsure what exactly for. Battle Born earned the band their fourth number 1 and was voted number 2 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2012 Reader’s Poll.
Wonderful Wonderful (2017)
Five years since their previous, the band’s fifth album took a lot of perfecting to get right. Not wanting to include any filler tracks and instead just make one whole concept album, The Killers got personal and delivered a sense of maturity that only a band that have survived a decade at the top can have.
Wonderful Wonderful is Flowers’ ode to his family, more specifically his wife who struggled with PTSD at the time. It also details the intricacies of being a man in today’s world. Rather than put on a grand show, the frontman has instead put himself vulnerably in the spotlight. Resembling Talking Heads and Brian Eno, the album is most musically like Day & Age but sees it hit Sam’s Town level with its conception. Hailed as one of the best albums they’ve ever created, Wonderful Wonderful earned the band their fifth number 1, making The Killers the first international act to chart their first five albums at number 1, and became their first album to top the US Billboard 200.
Imploding the Mirage (2020)
Since their arrival almost 20 years earlier, The Killers had learnt what sound truly suited them best and had curated it to a mixed perfection. With the oomphs of Hot Fuss, the Americana of Sam’s Town and Battle Born and the gleaming synths of Wonderful Wonderful, the band’s sixth album was a brilliant hotchpotch of everything The Killers were exceptional at.
Despite losing lead guitarist Dave Keuning, Imploding the Mirage is still classic Killers: a dazzling display of celestial heartland indie rock. With musical appearances from Lindsey Buckingham, k.d. lang and Weyes Blood (one of the first Killers albums to see features), the record shows the band’s maturity from bumbling alt-rockers to one of the greatest acts in history. Imploding the Mirage became The Killers’ sixth consecutive number 1, became the third-fastest selling album of the year and was voted number 1 as the Fans Favourite Rock Album of 2020 for Billboard.
Pressure Machine (2021)
After surviving the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, and successfully grabbing Keuning back, the concept for album number seven changed and Flowers opted to instead make a record based around his childhood in Utah. Harking back to his Springsteen roots, Pressure Machine is a softer exploration of folk rock that sees The Killers as more rock and roll heroes than stars.
In Pressure Machine, Flowers is back to putting on a show but while the stories are just as elaborate as his famous Murder Trilogy, they carry a sense of honesty that take them just that little bit deeper. And a feature from Phoebe Bridgers on ‘Runaway Horses’ just really ties it all together. The album serves as the perfect companion to the band’s latest run and only adds to the implication that they aren’t done yet. Pressure Machine became The Killers’ seventh consecutive album to hit number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and is currently sitting in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
The Killers’ latest album ‘Pressure Machine’ is available to listen now.