The Killers

Killers vocalist Brandon Flowers makes it very clear that he wants to be Bruce Springsteen on Sam's Town, judging by the Boss-esque sentiments decorating the over-the-top single "When You Were Young." While it's admirable that the Vegas quartet wants to be taken seriously as musicians and lyricists on its sophomore album, who said we ever wanted them to be our moral conscience? The best Killers tracks on their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss, were the zippy new-wave beatfests full of ambiguous poetry about boyfriends and girlfriends, love and sex — in short, glitzy dance-floor fluff that sounded great after a Duran Duran hit. But when the band attempts to be deep, it tends to come across as forced grandeur, the type of ridiculous prose penned by someone who takes himself way too seriously. Lyrics like "Don't you wanna feel my bones on your bones?" are about as sexy as a root canal, while lines elsewhere are cribbed straight from Bono 101. Paradoxically, however, these megalomaniac delusions redeem Town — and in fact make it musically far superior to (and more consistent than) Fuss in almost every way. Strong melodies and memorable hooks are the rule rather than the exception (highlighted by the quasi-psychedelic fuzz-drone "Uncle Jonny"), while keyboards are integrated far better — making the Killers seem less new-wave and more, well, muscular. Add in flashes of that ol' "We can do anything together, babe!" charm and Sam's Town is a place well worth visiting, despite its flaws.

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