Album Reviews: Sam's Town by The KillersWay back, early in the summer of 2004, I found an advance of Hot Fuss lying around my intern desk at FHM Magazine. I popped it into my computer and instantly fell in love. That disk would be my crew's summer soundtrack as we drove all over Long Island, frequenting parties and bars, and proclaiming how we were "On Top" along with singer Brandon Flowers. Hot Fuss, even though it brandished style over substance, possessed a ballsy bravado that perfectly meshed with summer decadence.
A year later everyone knew Mr.Brightside or was smiling like they meant it. Two years later all the things the Killers have done led to platinum plaques, high profile quarreling with other bands, and a new moustache for Mr. Flowers. Unfortunately, it has also led to a new sound for the foursome. Instead of continuing their nu-wave revival flight, featuring futuristic interpretations of Duran Duran and The Cure, The Killers decided to hop on the Springsteen and U2 train to Sam's Town. This is their attempt to create soaring anthems with universal meaning and lyrical depth. And while Sam's Town proves they still can't do substance, this one's lacking in style too.
Sam's Town is not without it's redeeming qualities. "Bling (Confessions of a King)" has some flash to it. As does "The River is Wild," with its alternating chunky punk guitar riff and keyboard breakdowns. Still, both songs find Flowers questioning or apologizing, even if I do wake up with their melodies in my head.
In a 2004 review of Hot Fuss, Anthony Miccio of stylusmagazine.com wrote "those of us who enjoy a good nu-wave dance party should appreciate these flashy drama kings before drugs, professionalism or a desire for respect renders them truly intolerable." While not truly intolerable, Sam's Town is a step in the wrong direction for these dancers.
On "Bones," Flowers sings, "I never had a lover/I never had a song/I never had a good time/I never had hope." If that's true, Hot Fuss must have been erased from his memory. If I erase it from mine too, and let Sam's Town stand alone, I do find myself singing along. Hot Fuss set the bar high in my mind, and though Sam's Town doesn't reach that mark, this album is still filled with songs that get just a little more addictive with each listen. - David Pessah, kNewIt06
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