By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator
“Boy,” the latest single from Las Vegas-formed rock band the Killers, stands as if it’s a letter penned from a father to his son.
The title itself, I picture written in large black ink, addressing the note. It’s what the son will grow up hearing himself called; a name ever-so-tied to the subtlety of affection that fathers tend to spare.
Each verse of the letter feels written with a purposeful assurance. The boy is being taken under his father’s wing; taught the lessons his dad wished he knew when he was young.
What ultimately stands is a beautiful tribute to growing up. And it offers a collection of messages that can be found applicable when pulled by anyone listening.
THE MAKING AND RELEASE OF “BOY”
Although left off the album, “Boy” was penned by frontman Brandon Flowers at the same time he wrote the tracks that made up the Killer’s album Pressure Machine.
The 2021 record, the follow-up to the band’s widely successful 2020 album The Mirage, saw the Killers take a turn towards something different.
It stands a lot less polished than their usual sound. Having been done through analog recording, the songs have no post-production mixing done digitally. "You can get caught up in having money, and having time, in studios, and laboring over something,” Flowers said in an interview with Uproxx, explaining the choice.
It breaks new grounds lyrically as well. Frontman Brandon Flowers drew lyrical inspiration from his childhood for the record. It’s essentially a portrait of Nephi, Utah, where he grew up. But despite the specificity of the anecdotes that he writes about — from a railroad crossing accident that killed two high-schoolers in town when he was in eighth grade to a vivid story of the opioid epidemic — it paints a connectable, small-town image.
“Boy” being omitted from the album was “an aesthetic decision,” Flowers said in an interview with NME. And while it does seem connected to Pressure Machine, examining it sonically and lyrically, it feels like the right choice for the track to stand apart.
DIVING INTO THE SOUND AND MEANING OF “BOY”
Where Pressure Machine saw a stripped-back sound from the Killers “Boy” sees a return to something polished.
A synthy, echoey soundscape is the first entrance to the song— moody and mysterious. But just before the first chorus, a drum build, and a jubilant, ringing guitar riff mark a dramatic transition sonically. The electronic backing suddenly grows exponentially in energy.
The transformation sonically only adds to the conviction and uplifting tone expressed lyrically.
Brandon Flowers repeats, “Don’t overthink it, boy. White arrows will break, the black night.” Through these words, he suggests looking for white arrows in life— things that bring purpose; things that bring light and positivity in the darkness.
He continues on the track, singing that even when things feel hopeless (“when you’re out on a ledge”), he must trust that his dreams will come to fruition with time. “Drawn arrows unseen will fly,” he finishes the chorus.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE KILLERS?
The Killers are currently on the North American leg of their tour. With two more albums under their belt since the last go-around, it has been a long-awaited return to live performances for the group itself and its fans.
Brandon Flowers has suggested that more singles will be joining “Boy” in the remainder of this year, leading up to a hopeful album release in early 2023.
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