The Killers, Macklemore, Van Morrison and more music reviews

This week the Killers return with an album that takes them in some new, Macklemore releases a new solo album, interesting directions, Van Morrison re-examines blues and R&B, trip-hop pioneer Tricky drops a new, spellbinding record, folk-singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst releases her first album in three years, Stephen Stills and Judy Collins team up on a collaborative record and Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Walker Lukens drops a highly appealing and playfully experimental collection.

Killers – “Wonderful Wonderful”

The Killers’ “Wonderful Wonderful”

The Killers haven’t released a great album since their 2004 debut, “Hot Fuss,” an album that so perfectly showed them at their best that they have floundered trying to repeat its success. The fact that “Wonderful Wonderful” is their best album since is both comforting and sad. Comforting because the band is experimenting with some success, like on the rocking, semi-ominous title track or the unlikely enjoyable light dance-driven new-wave pop of “Out of My Mind.” Sad, because this album has its good moments but it by no means a slam dunk.

It has a couple of really dreadful moments that keep it from being a true triumph, like “The Man,” which is either celebrating toxic masculinity and gross confidence or lampooning it. Then there’s the heavy-handed gospel-blues number “The Calling,” which recalls the weaker elements of 2006’s “Sam’s Town,” with its way too earnest character studies.

This album is a bit of a mess and the band is still missing that bit of fire that they had at the beginning of their career. At its best, it does capture your ear. At its worst, it makes you scowl at its missteps that hit you harder than usual because the bar has been lifted again by some of the better material. The couple stumbles are pretty frustrating. Given their weak discography since “Hot Fuss” hit it out of the park, you get the idea that the band members don’t know their strengths. However tracks like the Ryan Adams-esque rocker “Run for Cover” and the beautiful ballad “Some Kind of Love” provide enough of a boost to make this album worth recommending.

“Wonderful Wonderful” could be the beginning of the Killers coming out of a dense fog. Hopefully that is the case and that this album’s successes aren’t mere flukes.

Focus Tracks:

“Run for Cover” This song has a lot of strange lyrical mentions, from the politician apologizing for a sex…

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