Audacy's First Impression series is where we review new albums in just one take. Going track-by-track, we break down the entire project and rate it because we all know first impressions mean everything.
As far as First Impressions go, this is top-notch. One of the first lines that will stick to your soul on The Killers' 2021 album, Pressure Machine, comes on "West Hills" -- a heart-wrencher surrounded by symphonic arrangements as frontman Brandon Flowers sings, "If this life was meant for proving, I could use more years to live..." Oh... we see where this is going.
On Friday, August 13, Las Vegas rockers The Killers dropped their seventh studio album along with the first single, and the album's second track, "Quiet Town." Preceded by a sample of ordinary people discussing small-town life in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah (as most tracks do on this concept release), we get our first taste of the poppiness that fans have come to love from Flowers & Co., juxtaposed with lyrics about addiction and a "couple of kids" who were hit by a train.
"Terrible Thing" follows, a slow and emotional ballad telling the sad tale of one of Flowers' high school acquaintances, a closeted gay teen who, separately but similarly, tried to find their own way out of the "strangle silk" of their "cobweb town" Nephi. "Cody" comes next, picking the pace back up musically, but still discussing the tough topics of religion and losing faith. "Sleepwalker" keeps the pressure on while taking on our fears of change, even in the strongest among us.
SInger Phoebe Bridgers arrives to take the tempo back down again on the next track, "Runaway Horses," the only collaboration on the album, and one that equates the beginning sample of stampeding horses to wild romance and discarded dreams.
"Trying hard not to care" about the endless circle of life is the focus of the album's mid-point, revving the engine back up once again on "In the Car Outside," the record's obvious next single -- if anyone is asking us. "In Another Life" sticks with our protagonist wondering about that very circle, asking "Am I the man of your desire? Or just a guy from your hometown?"
"Desperate Things," another down-tempo ballad with audible crashes to punctuate violence, comes with no sample at the beginning. There's no need, as Flowers tells the story of a married and unfaithful police officer whose patience over his lover's physical abuse by her own husband has worn thin, and takes it upon himself to teach a lesson.
The album's title track, the slow and burning "Pressure Machine," will have your anxieties of time slipping by faster than you could have imagined fully confirmed, yet still soothed knowing that we are all from the same small town. The epic, choral closer "The Getting By," begs you to stay, "put another day in, son," in this town "tied to the torso of God's mysterious ways."
Here's the full track list for Pressure Machine:
"Runaway Horses" (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)
"In the Car Outside"
"In Another Life"
"The Getting By"
The Killers' Pressure Machine, featuring the return of guitarist Dave Keuning, is out now -- PLUS, the band will be hitting the road in 2022! Here's a full list of tour dates.