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Greatness and Mortality in “The Man” and “Run For Cover” review

On September 22nd, The Killers will be releasing their fifth album Wonderful Wonderful. Fortunately, they have already put out two singles, “The Man” and “Run For Cover” to give a brief taste into what we should expect.  Each explores two contrasting ideas, grandiosity and defeat, that the veteran band has earned over a decade of success.

The Killers consist of front man Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keunig, bassist Mark Stoermer, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. Their music effortlessly combines American folklore with human potential, creating a sort of invincible joy in the listener. Through the years, they continue to evolve their music style in each of their albums.

Hot Fuss (2004) gave us their youthful rebellion through glam rock; Sam’s Town (2006) delivered an intimate and daring look into young love via hard rock; Day And Age (2008) used pop rock to explore the legacy of joy and destruction that we all create in our lifetime, and Battle Born (2012) beamed loud anthemic rock, fighting off the band’s mortality against the growing market of soft-singing and auto-tuning rock bands.

The Killers also mastered inserting strong lyrics and far-reaching instrumental into their final verses, inspiring the listener, like a second wind energizing a fallen boxer. There are great songs, with captivating final verses, like “All These Things That I’ve Done” (2:31 – 3:27), “When You Were Young” (1:55 – 2:33), “A Dustland Fairytale” (2:14 – 2:47), and “Flesh And Bone” (2:15 – 3:05).

Wonderful Wonderful is a possible return, in music and style, to Sam’s Town and Day And Age. But now, The Killers feel established, accepting their greatness and, without apology, their mortality.

The Man

Verse 1

I know the score like the back of my hand / Them other boys, I don’t give a damn / They kiss on the crown, I carry the crown / Nothing can break, nothing can break me down / Don’t need no advice, I got a plan / I know the direction, the lay of the land / I know the score like the back of my hand / Them other boys, I don’t give a damn

I’m the man, come around / Nothing can break, nothing can break me down / I’m the man, come around and / Nothing can break, you can’t break me down

The Killers immediately bring out their swagger in this pop, chorus-heavy single ready for the radio. The first verse showcases the band’s established stature in the rock genre, knowing the ins and outs of success, with their self-esteem intact against the number of upstart bands ready to dethrone them.

Chorus

I got gas in the tank / I got money in the bank / I got news for you, baby, you’re looking at the man / I got skin in the game / I got a household name / I got news for you, baby, you’re looking at the man

The chorus establishes the fact that The Killers have nothing more to prove. They have gained everything possible: endurance, wealth, sacrifice, and popularity. This single teases the idea that the Killers are going after something more lasting.

Verse #2

When it comes to Friday, I always earn / Don’t try to teach me, I got nothing to learn / Cause baby I’m gifted / You see what I mean? / USDA certified lean

I’m the man, come around / Nothing can break, you can’t break me down

The second verse, layered with two chorus parts, felt a bit forced but it reinforced the idea that this band is talented and commercially successful. Ultimately this section could be something the average listener hums along to

Verse #3 (aka Second Wind)

Right hand to God / First in command / My testimony, but I take the stand

The third verse could be a solemn oath that the band will use to stake their future success, not on material gains, but on their music every time Brandon flowers steps on the stage. “The Man” is simple and catchy enough for the radio, ready to show The Killers’ brazen greatness.

Run For Cover

Verse #1

What have you gathered to report to your progenitors? / Are your excuses any better than your senator’s? / He held a conference and his wife was standing by his side / He did her dirty, but no-one died

I saw Sonny Liston on the street last night / Black-fisted and strong singing ‘Redemption Song / He motioned me to the sky /I heard heaven and thunder cry

Chorus

Run for cover / Run while you can, baby, don’t look back / You gotta run for cover / Don’t be afraid of the fear, that is a played-out trap, man / You know you’re not the only one / And don’t look back, just run for cover

“Run For Cover” is nuanced and layered, exploring the theme of fear and mortality.  I want to credit Atwood Magazine’s article “This Just In: The Killers ‘Run For Cover’ With A Restless Urgency” for their analysis. While we agree with their review, we will provide a more in-depth critique.

 

Related image
– The Killers, from left, Ronnie Vannucci Jr, Brandon Flowers, Dave Keunig, and Mark Stoermer.

 

The moment the song starts, the guitar strums with a rush that promises something epic. The first verse possibly questions our legacy as hypocrites, no better than adulterous leaders, with excuses too empty to bequeath to the future.

Like all tainted men of power, Sonny Liston was the first vision Brandon Flowers witnessed. The boxer, notoriously known as “The Champ that Nobody Wanted”, famously fell at the hands of Muhammad Ali and was set for eternal defeat in boxing lore. Sonny, attempting to escape such a fate, is singing Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, only to have the chorus explain that even champs should be brave to run away to fight their doom.

2nd Verse

What are you waiting for, a kiss or an apology / You think by now, you’ll have an A in toxicology / It’s hard to pack the car when all you do is shame us / It’s even hard when the dirtbag’s famous

I saw my mother on the street last night / All pretty and strong, singing “The Road is Long” / I said, “Momma I know you’ve tried” / But she fell on her knees and cried

The second verse continues the story of tainted men of power always seeking forgiveness, especially if these leaders are inherently noxious. The Killers show that shame may not be enough of a powerful motivator for these poisonous men to change their behavior.

Even Brandon’s vision of his mother, who is possibly singing Neil Diamond’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, teaches that altruism and selfless love is the goal of every human but it may be necessary to run away from these vile men and accept that may be the bravest choice.

Final Verse

And there was nothing she wouldn’t give / Just to trust him with her nightmares, with her dreams / She’s running, she’s running / Just to trust him / He’s got a big smile, he’s fake new / Just run for cover, you’ve got nothing left to lose

In the nuanced final verse, the guitar silences its aggression and the listener lands on hallowed ground. The “she” could be Brandon’s mother, or an innocent associated with these powerful corrupted men. Mentioning “he’s fake news”, one could think of Trump as an example. The listener could feel a sting of pain when “she” isn’t running away from such men, but running fatally towards these false idols.

“Run For Cover” is a strong example of The Killer’s forte, but it was the surprises that will please any fan. As a rarity, it referenced our political climate, directly noted two popular songs, and most noteworthy, it described Sonny Liston’s skin color without the band having to look sideways for any internet outrage. I appreciated The Killers daring to go into uncharted waters.

Both songs were about The Killers growing up. Realizing that they were still a great band, The Killers no longer had to prove it. No longer had to fight every battle. Ultimately, these two singles are hinting that the album will be their most intimate in-depth look at how The Killers views their hard-earned success.

 

Image result for the killers album cover run for cover
– Wonderful Wonderful album cover, releasing on September 22, 2017

 

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