COLUMN: In retrospect, “Pressure Machine” might be really good


Ryan Meyer

Ryan Meyer, Columnist

Inspired by a recent listening to an episode of the podcast Indiecast, I’ve begun revisiting The Killers’ most recent record “Pressure Machine.” It’s vastly different from the rest of the band’s catalogue, and I hadn’t spent much time with it since its August 2021 release.

Lacking the bombast of previous releases is where “Pressure Machine” finds its singularity. It’s riddled with acoustic guitars, there’s no clear single and every song begins with 30-second interviews with the townspeople of Nephi, Utah, lead singer Brandon Flowers’ hometown.

The theme of Flowers’ small-town upbringing has been present in other Killers’ records, but now more than ever, it is front and center. Gone are the glitzy anthems and synth ballads. Flowers is telling clearer stories than ever and is doing it over a sound never previously associated with The Killers.

While Flowers is quick to note the flaws of small-town America, he also isn’t afraid to glamorize it in songs like “Quiet Town,” where he sings, “In this quiet town/Good people, they still don’t deadbolt their doors at night/In this quiet town” before the song launches into an unsurprisingly harmonica-driven chorus.

The album bangs in a different way than, say, “Hot Fuss.” Rather than rely on arena-ready standards, “Pressure Machine” is perhaps The Killers’ most cohesive album to date, existing as more of a “record” than any of their previous six, in the sense that it exists as a unit.

The title track features Flowers’ most emotive, beautiful singing yet, reaching an unfaltering falsetto previously unheard.

Although the album depicts a town I imagine being tucked in between mountains and traversed by Union Pacific trains, the narratives can likely apply to most small towns in the U.S., like the story of domestic violence and Flowers’ interpretation of why it repeats itself in “Desperate Things.”

The imagery of small-town characters is everywhere, like in “Terrible Thing,” where all the guys end up working at the rubber plant and jukeboxes in the corner in “In Another Life.”

The Killers’ seventh record might see them at their best. Rather than doing what they’re known for, which is releasing three great singles to front an album that is usually perceived to be frontloaded, they’ve come out with an album that didn’t have any singles and might be meant to act as a concept album.

If I can wrap my head around the unique instrumentation The Killers have turned to, which I already am, when the Nephi dust settles, this might be my favorite record by a band I have spent a lot, and I mean a lot, of time with.

Ryan Meyer is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].