Musically, the album could easily be mistaken for something from 1987. It’s more synth heavy than anything the Killers have ever done, as well as more epic and more bombastic. The album almost seems like a deliberate attempt to channel the 80s. Given the optimism of that decade, it might not have been a bad idea.
For listeners familiar with the Killers back catalog, Battle Born blends the best of their previous albums. It has the driving synths of Hot Fuss, the Springsteen inspired anthems of Sam’s Town, and the catchy choruses of Day and Age. There’s even a little slide guitar just to keep things interesting.
Lyrically, two themes stick out. The first is the resilience of the human spirit. Even the album’s title (taken from Nevada’s state flag) suggests strength through adversity. The second theme is the glorification of (wasted?) youth. The Killers take us back to high school with its first loves, fast cars, and lost innocence.
The musical style and lyrics will likely resonate with men of a certain age. After all, those who can remember the 80s fondly are also approaching the age where the memories of youth can have a strong pull. However, the album avoids mushy sentimentality. Several tracks are about fighting on, even in the midst of seeming defeat. They offer a great message for guys who may have lost some confidence due to outside circumstances and want to reclaim some mojo. As Brandon Flowers sings on the title track: “When they knock you down, you’re gonna get back on your feet.”
Overall, Battle Born is an amazing album. It’s big, driving, and memorable. Lovers of the 80s and the early 00s post-punk revival should also find a lot to like about Battle Born. And, for men, especially those creeping into the 30s and beyond, it’s a good reminder that while youth may reign, a man can, if he believes in himself, hold his own at any age.