Listening to the Killers is like slipping on a pair of kaleidoscopic glasses: majestic colors – while understandably fantastical – await. Frontman Brandon Flowers has sold this grand daydream for nearly a decade; why stop now? Following a brief hiatus, the Las Vegas band returns with Battle Born, their fourth album and most super-sized effort yet: It’s another fairy-tale world soundtracked by sweeping ’80s-slathered synths, where women work 268 hours a week “to get their foot in the door” and young lovers “take chances in the hot night.”
Telling Flowers to dial it back is like asking Gaga to shop at Filene’s Basement. Not as self-serious as 2006 cheese-dream Sam’s Town, the foursome still goes for the gusto here. The singer brings an ill-fated Springsteen-esque romance novel to life on album highlight “Runaways”; opener “Flesh and Bone,” as good a Road House soundtrack b-side candidate as you’ll hear this year, finds dude sky-high, “penetrating the forcefield.” Producer Daniel Lanois (who joins a big-wig team including Brendan O’Brien and Steve Lilywhite) puts a pin in Flowers’s parachute on the quasi-subtle ballad “Heart of a Girl.” But this battle-born Nevadan is safer when soaring or, for that matter, free falling at warp speed.