Artist: The Killers
Album: Sam’s Town
Comments: A few things you should know right off the bat:
1) I loved The Killers’ first album. I think I listened to “Hot Fuss” for about 4 or 5 weeks straight, and if I had started this site sooner, it would have made my Best of 2004
2) This album is not as bad as people would have you believe.
3) This album isn’t good either, and it is a far cry from “Hot Fuss”
I was putting off reviewing this record for a while, because I wasn’t really sure what I thought about it. I had read too many reviews and heard too many people talk about it for me to be able to give it a fair shake. So I waited until some time had gone by and people had gotten over the release of this album and moved on to the next so I could give it the fair listen I thought it deserved. In that time, I listened to “Sam’s Town” over and over again, trying to figure the album out. The entire time, I had a sense of “something is wrong on this album, but I cannot put my finger on exactly what.”
But today, in the middle of my 2pm class, it hit me like something metaphorical. The problem with this album is simple: The Killers tried to make a rock record instead of a dance record.
This is the main problem with “Sam’s Town”. The Killers seem to have forgotten what made them famous and popular. No one was listening to “Hot Fuss” for killer licks and wicked chops. People were listening because “Somebody Told Me” was 80s dance punk revival that you could move to. People liked “Mr. Brightside” because it gave sorority girls and mopey depressed boys something in common. No on is getting ready for a basketball game by doing lay-ups and listening to “Smile like You Mean It”. So that is the first problem with the album; The Killers turned up the rock, but at the same time, turned up the suck. The guitars are turned to the front of the mix and serves as the anchor for most of the songs on the album. This is a dumb idea, because The Killers aren’t a guitar band, and rather than lead with their strength, which is synth and hooks, they limp out of the gate and never recover.
Another problem with this album is the songwriting and the singing. For whatever reason, lead singer Brandon Flowers sounds like he lost his voice. He is warbling more than ever, and trying to hit notes that were never in his range on his best day, let alone on an average day. It’s pretty off-putting. Also, gone are songs about woo-ing girls, losing girls, and girls. They are replaced by songs about leaving towns, getting out of towns, the road, and roads out of towns. Now, the Killers are catching some flack to ripping off Springsteen, but after listening to the album a few time, the only thing these guys share with The Boss is a theme of escape. Sadly, The Killers don’t pull this theme off anywhere near as well as Springsteen does, and the songs falter because of it. Especially bad songwriting on “Uncle Johnny”
There are some good tracks. First single “When You Were Young” is the best on the album, as it blends in their dance sensibility with their new found set of rock-ready balls, and its one of the tracks that doesn’t focus too much on the theme of getting the hell out. Scattered all around this album are songs with great choruses, excellent breakdowns, good background vocals, and passable chorus singing from the whole band. The problem is that these are all gems among alibis, and few songs can hold all of them together.
But still, this album isn’t all bad. It’s better than the 2 stars Rolling Stone gave it, but not by much. It’s a better sophomore album than some hot-right-now bands can hope to put out, but not by much. Overall, its an inoffensive listen, but one that will leave you unfulfilled, and because of this, it is an ultimately forgettable, if not unpleasant record.
Two more things. Not problems with the album really, just poor decisions on the part of The Killers. 1) They get the title of “worst song title 06” with their entry of “Bling (Confessions of a King)”, which is such a bad name that it makes me want to hate the song on principal, despite the fact that it isn’t bad. 2) The decision to all grow silly creep moustaches and pretend that they are all in a western. What the fuck guys?
Rating: 5 out of 10
Key Tracks: “When You Were Young”, “Bling (Confessions of a King)” , “Read my Mind”
Worth The Money: Nope