A New Golden ‘Age’ for The Killers

Courtesy of Universal Music

Courtesy of Universal Music
After its Americana-tinged “Sam’s Town,” The Killers return with infectious pop grooves for “Day and Age.”

The Killers is a fun band. Sure, there is the occasional lyric that can be interpreted as deep until the next one has you scratching your head, but this band isn’t supposed to make you think. And the best part is, they’re completely unapologetic about it. Combining synth and rock to break into the mainstream, the group knows exactly what it’s doing, but that doesn’t leave these musicians less confident in the music’s quality. Frontman Brandon Flowers has a cocky, flagrant swagger that’s pretty impressive for someone whose musical style seems like a gamble in the first place. But what else would you expect from a bunch of dudes from Las Vegas?
Luckily for these guys, this risk has been one worth taking. Its debut, “Hot Fuss,” was a smash hit littered with catchy singles followed by solid success from its sophomore record “Sam’s Town.” Expectations are normal, but the new record “Day and Age” casually snuck up on the media. The Killers doesn’t need reminders on what to sound like because this kind of stuff comes naturally.
“Losing Touch” is a nice opener for the album. Flowers sings, as if to counter doubt, “I ain’t in no hurry / You go run and tell your friends I’m losing touch.” This mellow track leads to an obvious single selection, “Human.” This track is very catchy and the chorus has an oblivious tagline to it: “Are we human / Or are we dancer?” “Spaceman” follows and is another clear standout. Flowers once again proves he’s the perfect singer for this band, transitioning between stretching his voice for the extra emotional pull and grinding out fast-paced lyrics.
“Joy Ride” is a trademark kick-back tune that could be played while driving through the Vegas Strip. There’s a seductive groove here that is hard to resist.
For all the fun these rockers have, sometimes their metaphors can wrap around a pretty creative story. In “A Dustland Fairytale,” Flowers succeeds in painting a cohesive, imaginative picture for the listener as much as he has in any other track by The Killers. “This is Your Life” has the familiar theme of a damsel in distress, and this damsel seems to be a prostitute. “I Can’t Stay” has carefree guitars, and even a sax, contrasting against its remorseful lyrics. The song reads like an apology note, as Flowers wails, “I can’t stay much longer / Riding my decision home.” “Neon Tiger” has a lot of allusions to the false glitz of Las Vegas, and serves well to a public that might not be as familiar with the town as these guys are.
“The World We Live In” has soothing instrumentation supporting it, but the lyrics are caught up in a haze. Overindulgent lines like “Bless your body / Bless your soul / Reel me in and cut my throat,” expose Flowers’ songwriting flaws. The song gets lost in itself too often, and is a lull compared to the rest of the album.
The surprising closer “Goodnight, Travel Well” expands on the sense of dread with which “Everything Will Be Alright” ended the band’s debut. However, this song really catches the band immersed in that terror, and exudes an affecting sway that it never really explored. After a few lyrics of desperate hopelessness, Flowers bellows “Stay / Don’t leave me / The stars can wait for your sign / Don’t signal now.” This closer is perhaps the most powerful song the group has ever done.
But before you get too depressed, this is still very much an album by The Killers. Most of these songs are infectious and have the same easy-going sound that has defined the quartet. The group has never had an issue with that, but subtle strides toward change have been made. Behind Flowers’ charm, the band is showing signs of growth, not diverting from its style but refining it. Instead of indulging in its excesses, they’ve cut them out. Oh, and even with that, it’s still all in good fun. Seriously.