boy [Single] Review

The Killers are back at it again, yet another hit with their new single “boy” that is inline with their catalogue but in contrast with their single “The Man.”

By Quinn Hesters

First things first, The Killers are my favorite band. They weren’t always, but once I started to get into the alternative music of the 1980’s that’s baked into their DNA,  I really started to adore the way they blended the slickness and tongue-in-cheek cynicism of British new wave with earnest Americana. It’s a fascinating combination that’s resulted in many synthesizer-powered anthems which share the subject matter of love and loss in a small desert town. But as similar as the basic components of these songs are, each one still has something new to offer, as a slightly different perspective or sound is enough to completely recontextualize something familiar. “boy” (with a lowercase “b”) continues this trend.

“boy” is interesting in how much of a contrast it is to The Killers’ last album, 2021’s “Pressure Machine”. A lot of the Killers’ work is inspired by frontman Brandon Flowers’ coming of age in a tiny town out in the southwest, but “Pressure Machine” shed any trace of vagueness to look at Flowers’ formative years in Nephi, Utah under a microscope. It was clearly a very personal project, with slower songs inspired by true stories about opioid addicts, railroad deaths, and alienation in a place where God is said to only love certain types of people. “Pressure Machine” has a level of somberness and intimacy that isn’t exactly radio-friendly, but it’s still something beautiful and honest that Flowers needed to put out into the world.

Following “Pressure Machine”, “boy” serves as a bright and optimistic return to form, like it’s straight out of The Killers’ triumphant 2020 album, “Imploding the Mirage”. “boy” was written during the recording sessions for “Pressure Machine”, but the band held onto it for a later release because it didn’t exactly fit with the tone of that album. “boy” is the kind of big, electrifying song meant for arenas, in the same vein as previous Killers’ songs like “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “When You Were Young”. Synths and guitars race like a beating heart as the lyrics look back on teenage years with the hindsight that what feels like the end of the world is just another thing you’ll survive. “And when you’re out on a ledge / Please come down, boy / There is a place that exists / Just give it some time”. The song evokes the imagery of a young person preparing to jump towards their death, only to be talked out of it by someone who has gone through the same things and knows that the future is worth living for. They give a simple but critical piece of advice: “don’t overthink it”.

“boy” is sort of like the antithesis of The Killers’ 2017 single, “The Man”. “The Man” is a brilliantly satirical deconstruction of masculinity and arrogance, particularly that of Flowers himself when he was younger. While that song looks back at an egotistical side of youth with a cringed smile, “boy” embraces adolescent insecurities with a straight face and a reassurance that things will get better. It’s an upbeat song about hope; a promise that you’ll escape the town that’s too small for your “jet fuel engine dreams”. All you need to do is hold on.

By Quinn Hesters

Quinn is a vat-grown living advertisement created by the LEGO Company to promote their products. When he's not being the flesh-and-blood equivalent of a billboard, he's raving about the X-Men on Twitter.

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