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The Killers are back, with songs of women and loyalty on ‘poppy’ new album

The absence of guitarist and co-founder Dave Keuning is felt, with keyboards and drums stepping into the void. Without Keuning’s jangle and riff shards, The Killers have a more poppy sound.

Musicians Brandon Flowers (left) and Mark Stoermer of The Killers perform onstage during the grand opening of T-Mobile Arena in 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Musicians Brandon Flowers (left) and Mark Stoermer of The Killers perform onstage during the grand opening of T-Mobile Arena in 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images for ABA

When you are The Killers and your usual guitarist has gone, no problem. When you’re The Killers you can turn to Lindsey Buckingham.

The former Fleetwood Mac guitarist steps in for a tune on the new 10-song “Imploding the Mirage” (Island Records), another sign of the band’s clout. The album’s guests also include k.d. lang and Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs.

The absence of guitarist and co-founder Dave Keuning is felt, with keyboards and drums stepping into the void. Without Keuning’s jangle and riff shards, The Killers have a more poppy sound.

This cover image released by Island Records shows “Imploding the Mirage” by The Killers.
This cover image released by Island Records shows “Imploding the Mirage” by The Killers.
AP

If 2017′s “Wonderful Wonderful” was a meditation on the anxiety of masculinity, the new album often explores the lives of women, with two sharp portraits of tough survivors in “Blowback” and “Caution” — women whom Brandon Flowers sings each come from “white trash.”

Many other songs are about loyally backing a partner. “I’ll be there when water’s rising/I’ll be your lifeguard,” Flowers sings on “Dying Breed.” On “When the Dreams Run Dry,” he vows: “I’ll be on your side/When the dreams run dry.” In “Lightening Fields,” he sings, ”Just wanted to run my fastest/And stand beside you.” The cover of the album depicts a god tenderly supporting a goddess.

Jonathan Rado of California psychedelic-rock duo Foxygen and Shawn Everett — who worked on “Wonderful Wonderful” as well as with Kacey Musgraves and Alabama Shakes — have stepped in to produce and their influence can best be heard on the funky “Fire in Bone.”

Elsewhere, listeners may have fun finding the band’s other influences. There’s a Tom Petty-ish sound to “Blowback” and “My Own Soul’s Warning” has a Springsteen vibe. But there’s no mistaking that classic Killers mix of soaring vocals, sonic bombast and sly humor in such songs as “My God” and the title track. It’s a solid album from a band still exploring.