As a music group that has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and seven Brit Awards, American rock group The Killers has established a distinct identity, creating a sound that can be recognized instantly upon hearing front man Brandon Flowers’ powerful voice and Dave Keuning’s filthy guitar lines. Part of that distinct identity has been the band’s project of the last 10 years, working with U2’s Bono and his Project (Red), a licensed brand designed to raise awareness and funds for the eventual eradication of HIV/AIDS across Africa. Since 2006, the band has released a series of Christmas singles and videos in support of Bono’s charity, and has raised more than million dollars for the cause.
The Killers’ latest Christmas release, “Don’t Waste Your Wishes,” came out on Nov. 18 and gathers the band’s Christmas singles from prior years.
The album begins with “A Great Big Sled,” which features Curve lead singer Toni Halliday on backup vocals, with some lead lines toward the end of the song. The hit from 2006 reached No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100. Flowers’ indie-style cadences and tone mesh with Keuning’s driving guitar sound and starts the album off with a melodic hit from 10 years ago, reminding fans of Flowers’ incredible composing ability.
The upbeat start resolves into a surprising Etta James-esque R&B groove, featuring Halloween Town singer and songwriter Ryan Pardey on the band’s 2011 Christmas single, “Don’t Shoot Me Santa.” The song shifts back and forth from the tune’s original soft groove and a heavier rock groove, keeping the listener on his toes. Both opening numbers feature a seldom-used rock-and-roll tool, the diminished chord.
“Joseph, Better You Than Me” features synth-pop star Neil Tennant and international music icon Elton John. Tennant, John and Flowers take turns describing the hardships that Saint Joseph, the father of Jesus, endured. The three singers reference the attention and scrutiny that would have been paid to Joseph. Tennant and John’s voice blend to create a David Bowie-style sound. Flowers said that working with both John and Tennant was one of the highlights of his career, calling them “real professionals.”
As the album continues, “I Feel It In My Bones,” featuring Ryan Pardey, grips the listener with a pulsating beat from drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. Vannucci’s drumming is comparable to Keith Moon of The Who and Tré Cool of Green Day. The Christmas single from 2012 was among the most popular singles released by The Killers for the charity and gave plenty of die-hard fans flashbacks. The song peaked at No. 41 on Billboard charts and No. 70 in the United Kingdom. The song was released on Dec. 1, 2012.
“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” brings the album to an end. The tune features Ned Humphrey Hansen, Flowers’ fourth-grade teacher. The album’s last track features a long story of Christmas experiences of the past, developing slowly into a classic Christmas carol. The album comes to an end in an interesting manner, with a talkative, conversational beginning showing the band’s appreciation for the holiday and for their charity.
“Don’t Waste Your Wishes” as a whole is a good listen, as The Killers bring back several unforgettable hits that every fan appreciates. Yet, the lack of new songs and new mixes is somewhat disappointing.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars