A four-year break between albums can mean anything from intra-band tension to writer's block. But in the case of the Killers it's allowed them to refresh, regroup, and settle on their own sound. Last album Day & Age was a searching record, characterised by a band trying too hard. Battle Born, on the other hand, sees them consolidate their strengths to create an epic listen that is quintessentially theirs.
One critical gesture the Killers hadn't mastered across their first three records was the "complete album", with no filler. And one classic rock style they hadn't mastered was the power ballad. Both deficiencies are addressed here.
True, some songs are derivative - you can hear U2 on the Daniel Lanois- co-written Heart of a Girl; and From Here on In sounds like a Lindsay Buckingham-penned Fleetwood Mac outtake - but on the whole it's their most consistent batch of songs.
And while first single, Runaways, might be When We Were Young Pt 2, second-single-in-waiting Here With Me is the most likely megahit. A power ballad that soars on the lyric "Don't want your picture on my cellphone/I want you here with me", expect to see cellphones raised to this one. Then, on Be Still, Brandon Flowers delivers his most affecting vocal to date over a restrained backing reminiscent of The Boss' synth-driven ballads.
They've worked with everyone from Brendan O'Brien and Steve Lillywhite to Alan Moulder and Stuart Price on this record. But far from uneven, it's the Killers' most cohesive album to date.