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The Killers New Single, “Runaways”

Today was the radio debut of “Runaways,” the song that is to be the first single off of The Killers’ upcoming album, Battle Born.  If you didn’t hear it on WBRU before our Retro Lunch, check it out here.

The single is slated to be released later this summer, whereas the album will not be released until Autumn.  The band will play their first live performance since their show in November 2011 at The Florida Citrus Bowl on July 19th in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is certainly time for The Killers to come back.  Oh, how I have missed them.

There has been buzz about Battle Born for most of the summer, what with the debut of the official trailer back in June and the release of the official artwork for “Runaways” last week:

The Artwork for upcoming single off of Battle Born, "Runaways"

Now that we finally have a taste of Battle Born, let’s talk about it.

The song opens with some ambient noise, building and adding in a single note from a violin until a simple concoction of piano, acoustic guitar, and light drumming comes in, giving the song its almost tentative tempo, characteristic of many songs by The Killers or Brandon Flowers.  After a 30 second intro, Brandon comes in with his now trademark vocals, somewhat stretched, somewhat pining, but always crystal clear, singing: “Blonde hair blowin’ in the summer wind/A blue-eyed girl playing in the sand/I’d been on a trail for a little while/But that was the night that she broke down and held my hand.”

Dreamy.

With lyrics like these, we know that The Killers will likely be sticking to their subject matter of young love, and the aesthetic beauty of both nature and women.  If you listen closely right after “sand” you will hear a background melody that is very reminiscent of Brandon Flower’s “Magdalena.” The lyric “that was the night that she broke down and held my hand” matches the progression of the song at that point perfectly, as it is here that the build really starts to pick up, leading to the pop of Flowers’ croon of “We can’t wait ’til tomorrow” matched by the heady and driving drumming of Vannucci, Jr.

The sudden explosion of sound is very reminiscent of many Killers songs; their formula of starting soft, popping, quieting down while maintaining a little bit more volume, and then rinsing and repeating this process is certainly one that works.

The Killers keep their music simple.  They never exactly display anything beyond proficiency at each of their respective instruments, with the exception of Flowers, who does some pretty incredible things with his voice.  That is not to say that the members of the band are not talented, I would never say that, nor assume to know that.  However, they generally stick to catchy guitar riffs, melodies, and bass lines that together create a great song, but standing alone are nothing spectacular.  As I said, their music is simple, but it has an elegance and a brilliance to it that I think has kept, and will keep, The Killers in the limelight.

The one aspect of this song that I do not particularly enjoy is the bridge where Flowers’ sings: “We used to look at the stars and confess our dreams/Hold each other to the morning light/We used to laugh, now we only fight/Baby are you lonesome now,” as I do not particularly like the heaviness and somewhat tasteless addition of the frantic synth.  It doesn’t particularly blend well and I think that it undermines the quality of the song. Other than that, I find the chorus almost too cutesy, pushing the envelope a bit too much with the rhyme of “I knew it when I met you, I’m not gonna let you.”

Seriously. I mean seriously. Look at this guy.

Following the bridge, however, is my favorite part of the song. Flowers sings these brilliant lyrics: “At night I come home after they go to sleep/Like a stumbling ghost, I haunt these halls/There’s a picture of us on our wedding day/I recognize the girl but I can’t settle in these walls,” driving home the theme of estrangement that the song focuses on with the poetry that we all have come to expect from The Killers.

As the song comes to a close, it is almost as if the band wanted to incorporate all of the classic song mechanics that have done so well by them in the past.  Flowers implements his quirky cadence and pitch shift on the word “appeal” (listen to it, you’ll know what I’m talking about) and the background vocals of “Why you wanna hide it?” scream “Why Do I Keep Counting?” and “Bones.”

It works perfectly and it comforted me, as if The Killers are trying to say with this song: ‘Hey guys.  We’re still gonna play the type of music that you know and love.  Don’t worry, we’re not going to play dubstep like those silly fellas from Muse.  Check it out, you see what Brandon did there?  Yeah, we know you like that.’

I feel like having a song like “Runaways” is a great choice for The Killers.  It is going to be a hit.  Everyone will love it.  It is catchy, classic Killers.  Not the best song out there, nor the best that the band has to offer, but a good start and what I suspect will be a chart-topper, nonetheless.

I feel as if “Runaways” will be to Battle Born as “Mr.Brightside” or “Smile Like You Mean It” is to Hot Fuss.  As “When You Were Young” is to Sam’s Town.  As “Human” and “Spaceman” are to Day & Age.  I am personally excited to hear the more underrated tracks of Battle Born, the “Why Do I Keep Counting[s]?” and the “Everything Will Be Alright[s].”

The Killers continually release music that tops the charts, music that takes over the radio.  However, they also make music that isn’t quite as poppy, isn’t quite as catchy, but that is incredibly beautiful and evocative.  Many of these songs do not make it to the radio, but become classics in the hearts of fans regardless of what the polls and the public have to say.

Battle Born is going to be big.  It will be different, as The Killers always find a way to make changes between albums, but I firmly believe that it will be every bit as good as Day & Age, and will maybe even be as awesome as Sam’s Town or Hot Fuss.  I have faith.  And I have every Killers/Brandon Flowers song that has been released thus far on repeat.  Counting down the days.


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