TOOK TO THE SPOTLIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND RING
The Day & Age of the new Killers album is upon us, and it's probably the record of the big autumn releases that I was most anticipating. After a couple of listens, in some ways it seems like an album that is neither here nor there, good but not great, with no songs emerging beyond the early singles, "Human" and "Spaceman," to prove themselves as stick-in-your-head stand-outs. For those who felt Sam's Town was too overblown (which, if you recall, does not include me), Day & Age does take us back to the simplicity of Hot Fuss, but it doesn't shed the sophomore skin completely.
Really, this disc seems a little out of place on the timeline. It makes more sense as the second album rather than the third, providing the logical bridge between the New Wave stylings of Hot Fuss and the arena rock of Sam's Town. Thus, we get the Duran Duran-sounding "Joy Ride" sitting right next to the Springsteen Americana of "A Dustland Fairytale." To push the connections between these touchstones further, "Neon Tiger" has a Duran title but Boss-style vocal swells in its chorus. These are two great tastes that somehow taste great together, at least when cooked up by the Killers. (Not sure I ever want to hear Simon Le Bon singing "Born to Run." Or Bruce singing "The Reflex," for that matter. Though he might do a mean "I Take the Dice.")
The Killers is one band I feel extremely comfortable playing spot-the-influence with. I've always seen them as caretakers of the music of my generation, archivists who keep the aesthetic I grew up with alive. I have a feeling if you compared mine and Brandon Flowers music collection, you'd find a lot of the same albums. When the band appeared on SNL last month, performing "Human" and "Spaceman," I thought they had entered their sci-fi stage, but I hear the later, post-Young Americans Bowie on a lot of these tracks. The horn riff in album opener "Losing Touch" recalls the main sax line of "Absolute Beginners," while the Caribbean-seasoned "I Can't Stay" works similar brass-inflected, '80s Thin White Duke territory (along with some Haircut 100). Elsewhere, the jungle chants of "This is Your Life" bring to mind both Adam & the Ants and Baltimora. The clip above even works some Bunnymen into the end of "Human."
Of course, Day & Age must be more than the sum of it parts, otherwise there would be no point. For all that I hear that is familiar, the Killers do push it forward and make something of their own. Though this third album may not have the immediately apparent majesty of the previous discs, it does prove the Killers dependable enough to always deliver a solid listen.
If you're doubtful, Amazon has taken some of the risk out. At least for the time being, they have the download version of the album priced at a mere $3.99. That's a hard price to beat.
Current Soundtrack: Day & Age
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All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich