Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, The Killers return to their synth rock roots with “boy.”
Nearly a year from the release of their introverted seventh studio album Pressure Machine, The Killers have returned to their synth-heavy arena rock with their new track, “boy.” Back when they debuted the song last month at Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival, Brandon Flowers told Consequence that “boy” is a song that they’ve had in their back pockets for a while, and now it was time for it to see the light of day.
Within “boy” are traces of every Killers album to date: the chopping hi-hats from drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. are reminiscent of Hot Fuss, Dave Keuning’s expressive guitar lines evoke the heartland rock of Battle Born, and Flowers’ personal, symbolic lyrics feel right in line with the stories of Pressure Machine. But the biggest comparison is undoubtedly the band’s third album, Day & Age, which featured similarly glittering synths, shout-along, heartfelt choruses, and philosophical quandaries dressed over dance beats.
According to Flowers, “boy” came at the onset of the pandemic as he returned to his hometown in Utah, in between the outburst of energy from 2020’s Imploding The Mirage and the solemn direction of Pressure Machine. Flowers speaks both to himself and to his sons, meditating on the past while providing a sense of hope and guidance for the future. Interestingly, Flowers employs a vocal effect that gives a watery hue to his anthemic melodies, imbuing a small, but definable, sense of doubt to an otherwise motivating song.
But his primary thesis — the command “don’t overthink it, boy” — is repeated throughout, urging himself and his sons to free themselves from anxiety and expectations. Flowers works in short phrases, conjuring brief but striking images. “Only diesels dance/ these streets weren’t meant to house/ jet fuel engine drеams,” he sings in the second verse, reflecting on the lapse between his ambitions and his small town’s resistance to change.
And yet, Flowers wants us all to know that “there is a place that exists” — all we need to do is “just give it time.” It’s a lesson that Flowers has learned throughout his lengthy career as a rockstar, and it’s a message of hope and resilience that becomes a celebration on top of the band’s bright synth rock.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the happiness and relief on the other side of anguish, but The Killers want you to know that against all odds, it will arrive. And for now, don’t overthink it, just give it time; a simple but profound lesson.
— Paolo Ragusa