REVIEW: ‘Fire in Bone’ is Lament and Rejoice

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Fire in Bone Cover“Fire in Bone” is the latest single from The Killers’ upcoming sixth studio album Imploding the Mirage produced by Shawn Everett and Jonathan Rado and released through Island Records. “Fire in Bone” is a lamentation and a rejoice as it melds a funky bass with very 80s-synth sounds and a classic Killers power chorus.

”I felt cast out
I felt eighty-sixed
I felt darkness
But I felt fire in bone“

The lyrics and sentiment may be based on the Biblical story of the prophet Jeremiah who was tasked with warning the nations about their impending destruction. In the story, the people had turned away from God and towards idolatry and as such, God was to punish them by allowing the Babylonians to ransack their kingdom and take them away into exile. Jeremiah faithfully preached this prophecy only to be ignored, shunned, and outcast by his people. Yet, with a fire in his heart and in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9), Jeremiah pushed onward, continuing to preach on the danger of his people’s idolatry.

“I felt fire in bone
I felt washed up
I felt tempest-tossed and seasick
But I felt fire in bone
I felt mislead
I felt chained up, unclean, unknown
I felt unknown“

Like Jeremiah, lead singer and frontman Brandon Flowers finds himself cast out and disowned in “Fire in Bone.” While the reason is unclear, the mood quite befits its musical backing. The song begins with a synthetic monotone, a funky bass, and a deep unintelligible vocalization that feels like being trapped in a descending staircase that never actually loses altitude. The slight reverb of the vocals and muted guitar in the first verse and interlude extend the notion that the singer is stuck in an unfortunate but not entirely distressful situation.

By the first chorus, little about Flowers’ circumstances have changed; everything is still muted. But, the persistent “fire in bone” line and the occasional unmuted drums threatening to break through provide a sense that the song will not stay subdued forever. The synth slides in the interlude contribute as well while they more firmly plant “Fire in Bone” in an 80s vibe.

Mixing parables, the chorus if “Fire in Bone” draws from the story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament:

“When I came back empty-handed
You were waiting in the road
And you fell on my neck
And you took me back home
After all that I took from you
After all that I put you through
Here I am”

In this parable, a man begs his father to give him his inheritance. After completely squandering it, the prodigal son returns to his father who, to the man’s surprise, immediately forgives him and embraces him. This sudden shift to acknowledging he did something wrong feels discordant with the verses. Regardless of narrative cohesiveness, the emotion is clear that Flowers’ impassioned persistence in the face of detractors and nonbelievers has paid off.

“They say no one’s gonna save you
You’ve gotta make it on your own
But I called from the dark
And you picked up the phone
On my back in the raging blue
I looked up, and you cut right through“

The bridge between just before the final chorus somewhat connects the two messages, driving any hit of regret out of “Fire in Bone” and making clear that Flowers’ determination and hard work paid off and the redemption he enjoys in the chorus is one of his own making.

While nothing changes much sonically between the first and second chorus, the lyrical journal and instrumental build-up to the final moments of the song lead “Fire in Bone’s” conclusion to feel like a metaphorical and musical return to form for The Killers. While not exactly the upbeat rock that Killers fans fell in love with in 2004, “Fire in Bone’s” ending feels like a perfect prelude to a song like “Mr. Brightside,” “When You Were Young,” or “Spaceman,” even all these years later.

Overall, “Fire in Bone” is just the right song to get excited about Imploding the Mirage‘s eventual release. Its heavy-lean on 80s sounds feels right at home on top of The Killers’ introspective lyrics and signature power chorus, even when somewhat subdued.

The release of Imploding the Mirage is currently on hold due to COVID-19.

Fire in Bone
4.5

TL;DR

Fire in Bone is just the right song to get excited about Imploding the Mirage‘s eventual release. Its heavy-lean on 80s sounds feels right at home on top of The Killers’ introspective lyrics and signature power chorus, even when somewhat subdued.