The Killers have traded in their David Bowie influenced glam and dance rock for a much more serious set of music. On Sam's Town, the band sounds similar to Bruce Springsteen and early 90's, Achtung Baby-era U2. Although the album should widen The Killers' fan base by strongly appealing to those who grew up in the 70's and 80's, this darker set of songs has ultimately taken away from what made the band instantly recognizable and stunning in the first place.
The New Sound
Just as current soul/alternative duo Gnarls Barkley change personae with every one of their live shows, The Killers seem to be on their way to doing so with each successive album. The first album Hot Fuss, highly influenced by the likes of Queen and David Bowie, was made up of glam and dance rock, genres that had been greatly overlooked by mainstream audiences in recent years. Flowers and company, however, were able to put their own fun and unique twist on the music and bring it back to the masses. Now, though, The Killers have morphed into a seemingly more serious group. In doing so, the band has made music more reminiscent of past works by U2 and Bruce Springsteen, singing mostly about the working class life and typical middle-America struggles.
Throughout Sam's Town, lead singer Brandon Flowers' vocals are noticeably rougher and deeper, matching the sound the band is going for. The power guitars and some spectacular synths do remain intact. The new overall tone of The Killers, however, is much darker and less playful.
Tour of the Casino
Sam's Town begins with Enterlude and closes with Exitlude, suggesting that we have been taken on a tour through the actual Las Vegas casino after which the album was named. Following the opening songs, we are greeted by lead single and album highlight, When You Were Young, where powerful guitars and synths combine with Flowers' bombastic vocals. Several more dark tunes follow including the ultra-paranoid For Reasons Unknown. On songs such as Read My Mind and My List, Flowers sounds more like Bono than himself. Listeners get a little reminder of the Hot Fuss days on Bones as slick horns are placed around an upbeat melody. By the time the track rolls around, however, it feels a bit out of place.
Top Tracks on 'Sam's Town'
- Sam's Town
- When You Were Young
- For Reasons Unknown
"If It Ain't Broke..."
Most breakout bands will try to improve themselves on their follow-up to hit albums and build on strengths shown on the original. The Killers must be commended for being ambitious enough to attempt a total recreation of their music and identity on their sophomore release. However, there is no Mr Brightside or Somebody Told Me on Sam's Town, nor is there anything nearly as exciting. Although there is much hope for the future, The Killers have wandered too far away from what made them so enticing in the first place.