11.25.2008

Music Review: The Killers' Day & Age

by Vincent Lee

The lead singer of The Killers, Brandon Flowers has a well noted high opinion of himself and his band. An ego and aura that is largely unfounded. After dubbing the band's second album Sam’s Town, “one of the best albums of the past twenty years” and backing it up with what can more or less be summarized as a wretched Bruce Springsteen imitation, Flowers does little to improve on the band's latest, Day & Age (released Monday, Nov. 24). The Killers' third full studio album exemplifies this group: a band trying very hard to be great, but failing miserably with generally poor impersonations, completely unnecessary repetition, and contrived lyrics.

Moving on from their attempt to draw from The Boss, on this new album Flowers claimed to draw inspiration from David Bowie, Elton John, and Lou Reed. The influence of these three artists is noticeable, but the rather lackluster results continue. Elton John’s influence is heard rather clearly on the first minutes of “A Dustland Fairytale.” Lou Reed is present on the next track “This is Your Life.” Actually, these artists’ marks can be seen all over Day & Age. There is even still some Bruce lingering. Yet, the ultimate result is something much less than the sum of these great musicians. The basic sounds of these master rockers are there, but the subtle touch and strong lyrics that made them classic are nowhere to be found.

Apparently the success of “All These Things I’ve Done” (from the band's debut Hot Fuss) and the one line repeated ten times, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier,” has The Killers deeply believing that reiterating lines is the way to make a profound statement and impact. On “Human,” Flowers sings the line “Are we human? Or are we dancers?” over and over. Repetition can be used effectively to shape a beautiful song, or it can be used to butcher a line and ruin a song entirely. The Killers chose the latter.

The issue of repetition is only a taste of the lack of strong lyrics plaguing Day & Age. If overly-done lines and bad puns are your things this album is most likely for you. That said, it would be unfair to say this album is entirely awful. Five songs in, “A Dustland Fairytale” turns out to be the best song by The Killers ever. Starting slow with the aforementioned Elton John-influenced piano, it truly develops into something special. It leaves you thinking maybe there really is something in this band that could make them as great as Flowers believes they are. Then you are brought back down to earth by the ensuing songs that do little to support Flowers’ remarkable ego.

The millions of people who have purchased and enjoyed the first two Killers albums will most likely absorb Day & Age with similar force. It draws on the energy and zest that made Hot Fuss such a hit, but mixes it with the influence of greater artists. For those who share my opinion on The Killers and their first two works, Day & Age is not the solution to changing minds.

(The photo of The Killers performing in 2006 is by Danny Wilson of Provo, UT via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license. The Killers open their North American tour in Oakland, CA on Dec. 11. To see The Killers perform "Losing Touch" on Later with Jools Holland from the BBC, please check below.)









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