Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Killing The Killers in Sam's Town

I walked over to Times Square after work last night to have some ramen at Sapporo. (Not sure why I go there. It's really not very good.) Afterwards, I figured I'd swing by the Virgin Megastore to pick up the new Killers album. (Actually, I was more excited about the prospect of finding a copy of Kick by White Rose Movement, which hasn't yet been released stateside.) Virgin was asking $13.99 for Sam's Town, but I knew it was available for $9.99 elsewhere. I was feeling lazy, and, besides ... Virgin had Kick, which would've felt lonely in the shopping bag without Sam's Town. So, I coughed up the extra $4 begrudgingly and took both albums home.

Aside from the extra $4 that I had to cough up, my reluctance at buying was also colored by a Times review that trashed the album. You know, The Times knew what it was talking about. Sam's Town is quite bland. Maybe "bland" isn't the right descriptor. "Blah" is more like it.

Had Sam's Town been The Killers' debut album, I probably wouldn't be a Killers fan now. I was a bit queasy about buying Hot Fuss, given the affection for it shown by the masses. But I'm glad that I put my Nietzschean ethos aside and took the plunge. Mass appeal notwithstanding, Hot Fuss is a great album. It has the feel of a band being innovative without trying. Unfortunately, Sam's Town has the feel of a band trying all-too-hard to be innovative.

Popular appeal has perhaps given Brandon Flowers a bit of a messiah complex. (That may explain the church-like choir that bellows in Sam's Town. A preacher needs his background singers, no?) On the album, he's like the person at the dinner table who just keeps talking and talking -- so much that you want to tell him to shut the hell up. And he's not talking in a soft tone, either. His voice is so bombastic at times that I wonder whether the band would do better to replace him with Meat Loaf.

Hot Fuss introduced the unique sound of "Black Celebration" meets "Fascination Street." But that delicate merger is eviscerated in Sam's Town by, among other things, a guitarist whose motto must be: "I've never met a solo I didn't like." Merging Depeche Mode with The Cure is an interesting idea. Merging Depeche Mode with Def Leppard is not.

Oh, what could've been. I fear this may be the last Killers album that I buy.


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