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Whenever I write a review, I try to rate the final verdict out of five rather than ten. It means I have to be more decisive about my rating, with the added bonus of not having any middle ground. A 2/5 is negative, a 3/5 is positive… but a 5/10 is nothing. If a review is meant to pass judgement on something – to determine whether the reader should or shouldn’t invest some of their limited time on this planet in order to consume it – then what’s the point in a middling rating?
That being said, Imploding the Mirage can be a middling album.
That statement comes with several caveats, however, the main one being that I am a lifelong Killers fan. I’m currently writing this sat on my bed – with Mark Stoermer, Ronnie Vannucci Jr., and Brandon Flowers all glowering down at me from a framed poster used for their 2017 tour. They have been my favourite band for years… but nobody’s perfect. Imploding the Mirage didn’t quite meet my expectations, but maybe I should’ve managed them better.
Taking inspiration from early-80s Bruce Springsteen and similar arena-rock anthems, Imploding the Mirage spans the spectrum of its niche. Tracks such as “My Own Soul’s Warning” or the titular “Imploding the Mirage” have beleaguered openings, before building into a peppy and punchy chorus. Others, such as “Blowback”, maintain a similar momentum from start to finish. However, the album peaks with “Dying Breed” – a song that has all the hallmarks of a rock classic with a fresh coat of paint. The album still manages to have a distinct overall sound, one that feels like a logical progression from their previous studio effort (Wonderful Wonderful) – for better or worse.
With the notable exception of “Caution”, which features Fleetwood Mac alum, Lindsey Buckingham, Imploding the Mirage has a noticeable de-emphasis on guitar. Long-time listeners may be put off by this, considering most classic Killers tracks have had such iconic riffs provided by founding member Dave Keuning – who has not worked with the band since 2017. His absence from this album’s composition is a major drawback, with a great many songs having an over-emphasis on the synth that’s almost dissonant when compared with the older works. This entirely down to personal taste, however – the album is still perfectly enjoyable once you adjust to the new sound. It takes time, but the tracks do grow on you.
Returning to my initial point regarding rankings out of five, I find it quite sad that it takes effort to conjure any strong feelings about Imploding the Mirage to determine a verdict. It’s adequate, passable – not worth fervour in either of its flavours. An interesting failure is preferable to a boring success, but I worry that this album is neither.
Verdict: A synth-ier, Springsteen-ier soundtrack, Imploding the Mirage doesn’t reach the heights of previous albums but is still a potently listenable collection of tracks. 3/5