A storytelling of small town life through a new musical lens
With a new reinvented sound, The Killers released their seventh studio album, Pressure Machine. Taking inspiration from Bruce Springsteen, lead singer Brandon Flowers wasted no time during last year’s quarantine. Following their 2020 release Imploding the Mirage, he began new concepts, which in turn became the band’s newest release. The album focuses on Flowers’s time living in Nephi, Utah, where he drew inspiration from the sights, sounds and people he experienced growing up. This record stands different from their last records, fashioning a world with personal storytelling lyrics dazzled with an Americana Springsteen tone, sprinkled with bursts of that Killers tone fans love.
Formed back in 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada, by original member Dave Keuning and Flowers, The Killers have been on the music scene producing albums that will go down in history. Their first record in 2004, Hot Fuss, housed iconic jams like “Mr. Brightside,” “Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It” and “All the These Things I’ve Done” that exploded radio speakers for years. The band did go through some lineup changes and, in the end, solidified with the official members, including Flowers, Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. Around 2019, Keuning was no longer working with the band, he rejoined in with the group and together created Pressure Machine.
Kicking off the album is one of the singles, “West Hills.” It begins with tape-recorded interviews with those from Flowers’s hometown. Slowly, an emotional piano rises accompanied by twang acoustic guitar and strings creating a vast soundscape. The song reminisces on an old town and the actions among those who live there. It also gives glimpses about personal experience with run-ins with the law for drugs.
“Quiet Town” is another single off the album that starts with a recorded sound byte of someone talking. The man talks about how the train that runs through their town is known to be a common means of suicide for those in town. Though the subject is about those who have the misfortune of being caught by the train, the song has an upbeat fast-moving tempo. After the man is done talking, moments of bright synths come to play, hinting at the band’s signature sounds among the Americana sound.
The ballad off the record, “Runaway Horse,” features Phoebe Bridgers in a sweet vocal combination. The song is beautiful and simple, really only composed of a picked acoustic guitar with the body given by rising moments of strings, piano and lap steels. “In The Car Outside” picks the pace back up, and once again, their signature tone peaks through the new twangy tone. It is a non-stop ride driven by expensive drums and energized vocals. The title track, “Pressure Machine,” features rising falsetto notes from Flowers that ring out. The song paints a picture of how fast life moves and the importance of cherishing the small beautiful moments.
Overall, Pressure Machine is a soulful and delicate insight into the small-town life once lived. It is a change from their previous work, and fans will enjoy hearing the band in a new vulnerable tone.