A quieter, character-study-driven album, Pressure Machine lives squarely in Flowers’ hometown of Nephi, Utah, a close-knit community of 5300 people with no traffic lights, a rubber plant, wheat fields, and the West Hills. Nephi is the place Flowers spent his formative years (10-16), saying “had it not been for advancements in the automotive industry, Nephi in the 90s could have been the 1950s.” The album’s songs are based on the memories and stories of people that impacted him growing up, interspersed with commentary from current Nephi locals about their town. “We were discussing [Brandon] moving to Nephi as a kid and being stuck in the middle of nowhere,” says the band’s drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. “And during Covid-19, it started to feel like we were all in the middle of nowhere.” Concurs Flowers, “I discovered this grief that I hadn’t dealt with,” he says, “many memories of my time in Nephi are tender. But the ones tied to fear or great sadness were emotionally charged. I’ve got more understanding now than when we started the band, and hopefully I was able to do justice to these stories and these lives in this little town that I grew up in.”
The resulting record is an aural document of growing up - and living - in the American Southwest, told from a myriad of perspectives. For the first time in his life, Flowers had complete lyrics before a note of music was put to tape. No stranger to inhabiting different characters in songs, on Pressure Machine he steps into the shoes of some of the people whose lives he watched unfold as a teen. The album weaves the threads of Flowers’ signature lyricism throughout his career into a perfect whole culminating in the most elegant album The Killers have ever made.
Through its characters and also its title, the album squares up to the unbending pressure of the American dream compounded by religious disenchantment. A born optimist, moments of beauty inevitably shine out of the grief of Flowers's songs: the healing arrival of summer, the first crop of hay, sweeter skies. Pressure Machine’s stories detail the real life personal battles, overwhelming regrets, local tragedies, and the opioid epidemic that hit Flowers’ hometown, as well as every hometown in America. Flowers sings about the choices people make, for better and for worse, and the consequences of those choices; the ones who were left behind, and the ones that can’t be forgotten.
Pressure Machine’s album cover image was shot on the highway just outside Nephi, taken as photographer Wes Johnson passed a roadside inspirational display set up by a local Baptist church. Johnson took dozens of incredible images of Flowers’ hometown throughout the early part of 2021, many of which are featured in the album’s packaging for the physical edition.
1. West Hills
2. Quiet Town
4. Terrible Thing
6. Runaway Horses Featuring Phoebe Bridgers **
7. In The Car Outside
8. In Another Life
9. Desperate Things
10. Pressure Machine
11. The Getting By