I figured I’d do a monthly ‘what I’m listening to’ kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it’s my blog! So there!
I will say, no one is more surprised by my like of the Killers than myself. I think I said that after I took my nephew to their concert pushing two years ago now, I would guess. Sure I had heard the hits of Hot Fuss on the airwaves and really took to “Somebody Told Me”, but not enough to buy the album.
It was their follow-up, the underrated and under appreciated Sam’s Town, that I really liked. Sure Sam’s Town had some Springtseen-esque qualities, or almost plagiarism, but it still worked. Their third disk of b-sides and out-takes was just that – killing time until a new disk landed. And it has.
Much like their first two disks, the Killers’ new release, Day & Age, comes across as trading on many older styles. Last time it was some Bruce, but this time they are back to (re)visit Bowie, Roxie Music, Duran Duran and New Order, as they did on their debut. Yeah, they have influences from my past, but on the other hand, they seem to pull much of it off as their own.
For musicianship and vocal talent, the Killers are quite adept and perform fairly well. They are all credible in their playing and singing.
Day & Age was produced by Stuart Price, who did Madonna’s Confession on a Dance Floor. You can hear some of that in this work, especially in “Human”, but for the most part, he blazes no new trails.
With “Human”, the group may have achieved the best pop song of the year. While the song was built for, but failed at, radio airplay – I’m a bigger fan of the opener, “Losing Touch”. With the horns and the vocal changes, it has a Bowie-like feel. “Spaceman” is also fun and could be a radio hit.
“A Dustland Fairytale” could be from Sam’s Town (read: Springsteen again) in style. The slow burn of “The World That We Live In” is kind of surprising to me. Ditto with the chorus to “Neon Tiger”. And I like the traditional disk closer, “Goodnight, Travel Well”. None of these will make a radio playlist ever. (I say ‘traditional’ because the iTunes version contains an additional three songs.)
And while there are other strong songs on the disk, there are some clearly weaker material (“Joy Ride”, “This is Your Life”).
If you’re looking for depth when it comes to lyrical content, you may as well look elsewhere (“you sold your soul, like a Roman vagabond”. Really??). Brandon Flowers (no relation, I don’t think, to the accomplished and world-acclaimed, Rebecca), might possibly be the gayest straight man ever, but he is not passing off meaningful words to most of these songs. You just have to take it for what it is.
I guess Day & Age is a three and a half-star disk. I would bet the material presents better live, but this is just a regular recording that you can skip and play what you wish.