The Killers: Welcome to the mellow Machine… Its a beauty
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Pressure Machine is a pandemic byproduct. It bloomed in the stillness of the world grinding to a halt. It’s not “all ballads, no bangers” but it’s close.
Brandon Flowers tells stories from his hometown of Nephi, Utah, in songs that would have been “drowned out by the noise of typical Killers records”.
Slow, haunting opener West Hills sees the lead character busted by the sheriff for possessing enough “hillbilly heroin” — prescription painkillers — “to kill the horses that run free in the west hills”. Sara Watkins’ plaintive fiddle adds to the minor chord melancholy.
Quiet Town tells of a young couple killed tragically by a Western Pacific train. The chorus is less Mr Brightside and more Mr Springsteen. “I will walk with the dead and living,” sings Brandon on this cracking mid-paced grower of a song.
Runaway Horses, a gentle slice of Americana co-starring Phoebe Bridgers, is about a small-town girl who puts her dreams on ice.
There are tears here but no sneers. “Ain’t nothing wrong with the working class,” he sings. His community are “Salt of the land, hard-working people… who lean on Jesus”.
But on the touching closing ballad, The Getting By, Mormon-raised Flowers seems disenchanted with religion and the promise of mansions in the afterlife – “when I look up all I see is sky”.
In The Car Outside, co-written with guitarist Dave Keuning and producer Jonathan Rado, picks up the pace and Flowers hits notes worthy of Roy Orbison on the jaunty title track.
It’s a beauty.
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