Opinion: Don’t Expect The Killers (as we know them) on ‘Pressure Machine’
It’s been a while since I posted on the website but with The Killers seventh studio album dropping in three weeks, I thought I’d hop off Twitter for a minute and log back in for some thoughts on ‘Pressure Machine’.
Like most fans, I’m pretty excited to get two Killers albums in two years. Throw in the confirmation that they’re already working on their eighth studio album, and it almost feels like the beginning of their career when they released five albums in the span of six years.
2004- Hot Fuss
2006- Sam’s Town
2008- Day & Age
2009- Live from the Royal Albert Hall
I think there are a couple of hints, some more obvious and some more subtle, that ‘Pressure Machine’ is not going to be a typical Killers album. Personally, I think anyone expecting the electricity of ‘Mr. Brightside’, the huge chorus from ‘When You Were Young’, or the danciness of ‘Caution’ is going to be sorely disappointed come midnight on Friday August 13th.
The press release announcing ‘Pressure Machine’ mentions a couple of key points
First (emphasis mine):
Indeed, for the first time since 2004, the relentless momentum and pressures of being in a globally-renowned, stadium-shaking band stopped. Enter Pressure Machine: a view into the everyday realities of a small American town with a stark, tough beauty, and The Killers’ most restrained and resonant album yet.
The press release says nothing about that relentless momentum restarting with the tracks on ‘Pressure Machine’. In fact, the next sentence, confirms this isn’t happening- don’t even bother getting your hopes up for the next ‘Mr. Brightside’, ‘STM’, ‘ATTTID’, ‘WYWY’, ‘Human’, ‘Spaceman’, ‘Runaways’,’The Man’, ‘Run For Cover’, or ‘Caution’.
The third paragraph of the press release confirms this too (again, emphasis mine):
A quieter, character-study-driven album, Pressure Machine lives squarely in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah, a close-knit community of 5300 people with no traffic lights, a rubber plant, wheat fields, and the West Hills.
This continues in the fourth paragraph (emphasis is mine):
The resulting record is an aural document of growing up - and living - in the American Southwest, told from a myriad of perspectives.
I think this is a record that will beg to be listened to in the quiet light of an early morning or the dying light of a long day. We’ll need the stillness to really hear what Flowers has written and The Killers have composed- your first listen can’t be on a crowded bus or in the Tube or halfheartedly at your desk with one earbud in or while you also listen halfway to a Zoom call or Teams meeting in the background while working from home.
Finally, we’re told this album is going to go deep on themes that Flowers first explored with ‘Sam’s Town’ and has continued to explore on ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ and ‘Imploding The Mirage’, except this time he’s not writing solely about his family, he’s writing about himself (emphasis is mine, again).
Through its characters and also its title, the album squares up to the unbending pressure of the American dream compounded by religious disenchantment. A born optimist, moments of beauty inevitably shine out of the grief of Flowers's songs: the healing arrival of summer, the first crop of hay, sweeter skies. Pressure Machine’s stories detail the real life personal battles, overwhelming regrets, local tragedies, and the opioid epidemic that hit Flowers’ hometown, as well as every hometown in America. Flowers sings about the choices people make, for better and for worse, and the consequences of those choices; the ones who were left behind, and the ones that can’t be forgotten.
If we look beyond the press release, I think we can also see that this is not your typical Killers album.
One, the album was announced with only a three week lead time. They aren’t interested in having ‘Pressure Machine’ create buzz and sell tickets. They already did that last year with ‘Imploding The Mirage’. Casual fans, radio listeners, and music streamers just need a reminder that The Killers are going to finally get to tour ‘Imploding The Mirage’ next summer.
Two, there’s been no mention, or teasing, of a lead single. Personally, I’m glad that they haven’t given us a real, audible taste of the album yet- let’s wait until midnight on Friday August 13th and listen to the whole story and not just a random chapter.
Three, the upcoming tour in 2022 is still being billed as the ‘Imploding The Mirage’ tour. Sure the press release mentions The Killers will be touring ‘Imploding The Mirage’ and ‘Pressure Machine’ but look at the marketing/ social media promotion- there’s no mention of ‘Pressure Machine’. They know most people, casual fans and your average radio listener or music streamer, are not going to be queuing or tearing down the doors for ‘Pressure Machine’. 2022 is about making good on the explosive sounds and critical acclaim of ‘Imploding The Mirage’.
Four, look at the digital purchase price for ‘Pressure Machine’- $7.99 USD. In my opinion, that lower than usual price is deliberate and an attempt to get casual fans and listeners to purchase, and hopefully listen to, the whole album.
As we approach the release of ‘Pressure Machine’, I think The Killers are uniquely positioned to deliver the most critically acclaimed album of their career (‘Pressure Machine’) while also delivering perhaps the greatest live performances, so far, of their career (touring ‘Imploding The Mirage’ with most, if not all, of the core band back out on the road).
23 notes · View notes
“Faster, Higher, Stronger”
To highlight the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, we again dig into the Albert Rainovic collection at UWM Archives, call number UWM Manuscript Collection 43.
Pictured above is an image drawn by Rainovic that was published in the “Men’s and Recreation Section” of The Milwaukee Journal on Sunday, November 18, 1956. Find this image in Box 14, #459.
Clockwise, the featured Wisconsin athletes include Ken Wiesner, Del Lamb, Ralph Metcalf, and Don Gehrmann. The following caption is included with the image:
Track and skating have provided Wisconsin with most of her Olympic stars, such as these from the last quarter century. Gehrmann ran eighth in the 1948 1,500 meter race. Wiesner placed second in the high jump in 1952. Lamb came in fifth in 1936 and tied for sixth in 1948 in 500 meter races. He was coach of the 1956 speed skating team. Metcalfe took second in the 100 meter dash and third in the 200 in 1932. He ran second to Jesse Owens in the 100 in 1936. - By Al Rainovic, a Journal Artist
In 1968, the Olympics Games were in Mexico City, Mexico, and Rainovic drew the above image to commemorate the event. Uncle Sam is drawn in a track and field uniform with the American flag in the background, and on the flag, are surnames of U.S. Olympians. This image was published in the Milwaukee Journal on October 25, 1968. The quotation reads:
“Nothing is more synonymous of our national success than is our national success in athletics. Nothing has been more characteristic of the genius of the American people than is their genius for athletics.”
- Gen. Douglas MacArthur (1928)
What Rainovic’s drawing does not capture amid the national triumph of Olympic gold, is the protest of Black American athletes during the 1968 Games. In what is now an iconic image (pictured below), Tommie Smith and John Carlos, sprinters in the men’s 200-meter race, raised their gloved fists in the Black Power salute during the U.S. national anthem. The gesture was done in solidarity with the Black Freedom Movement in the U.S. and was rewarded with the expulsion of Smith and Carlos from the Games because their action was deemed too political for the apolitical nature of an international sports competition, according to the president of the International Olympics Committee (IOC).
Smith, Carlos, and Australian sprinter Peter Norman also wore patches during the medal ceremony that supported the Olympic Project for Human Rights, an organization that protested against racial segregation in the United States and racism in sports.
Find Rainovic’s 1968 drawing in Box 14, #448.
16 notes · View notes