Friday, September 29, 2006

The Killers - Sam's Town (Island)

Ah, hype. Good old hype. That staple of the recording industry that’s capable of turning the greatest music into a cacophonous, unlistenable dirge. You would think, given our hatred for this particular promotional medium, we’d be steering well clear of current everywherists The Killers, but we’re going to adorn our metaphorical hat of impartiality, and only partly because it’s a bad hair day.

Sam’s Town, the second album from The Killers, is big business. Aside from following up the colossus that was Hot Fuss, and wafting a charming aroma under our noses via the superb When You Were Young, the propaganda machine is chugging away furiously – there’s a LOT to live up to.

While Sam’s Town isn’t necessarily a dramatic shift from the studio-heavy sound of Hot Fuss, there’s some definite sidling away from electronic overtones, a wise move in the recent hijacking, arse-raping and complete obliteration of the genre by one Robbie Williams.

However, there’s also a clear-cut modification of the aural geography of The Killers – the UK-influenced sound honed by the band not only paid tribute to the wonder of late Britpop, but there’s nothing Brits love more than an American who accepts we do it better (FYI – not in a “Oh my Gawd, you guys are from London!? That’s totally awesome!” way). Alas, with the exception of the unashamed Suedesque Northernness within Bling (Confession of a King), Sam’s Town relocates Stateside.

Not that we should begrudge them this – they are American, after all. And it should be noted that although this is now more evident in their music, they’re not quite Fall Out Boy just yet. The soberly honky-tonk Enterlude sets the scene, further established by the Cadillac rock of Bones and the big-haired throwbacks of This River Is Wild.

Sam’s Town is, for the most part, a grandiose victor of a record, but frustratingly, with a very knowing quality. The Killers somehow made a very quick transition from quirky electro-rock underdogs to power-platinum headline heroes, a title they’re patently attempting to provide for. Which, given the expectation surrounding the album, is probably a good thing. But you can’t help feeling The Killers will need to hit an all-time low before being able to make anything resembling mind-blowing music again.

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