Monday, October 02, 2006

Bling (Confessions of a King)

Song: Bling (Confessions of a King)
Artist: The Killers
Album: Sam's Town

The Killers “Sam’s Town” has been one of the most hotly anticipated of the year, and it is out in stores today. The band shot to the top of the charts with their debut “Hot Fuss” which included the smash singles “Somebody Told Me,” “All These Things That I’ve Done,” and “”Mr. Brightside.” I really liked their debut record, despite thinking that lead singer Brandon Flowers is way too full of himself. For whatever reason I didn’t expect much more from these guys, as much as I liked their record, I thought it was pretty weak lyrically, and thought maybe that this Las Vegas based synth pop band had cashed in all their chips and had no more cards to play.

I was wrong.

I have been half way obsessed with "Sam's Town" lead single “When You Were Young” since it came out a month ago, as well as the not-so-different but dancy-er Jacques Lu Cont remix which was released about two weeks ago. Not only do I think it’s the best song they’ve ever written I think it is downright classic, as in like “Born to be Wild” classic. Although the true touchstone is “Born to Run” of course as Flowers specifically said he was trying to write an epic Springsteen record. After seeing them play Webster Hall here in NYC a little over a week ago, I soon was all-out dorky excited for this record.

Just as the Scissor Sisters have, The Killers have beat the sophomore slump with “Sam’s Town.” I’m not sure it’s the classic that Flowers have proclaimed it to be, multiple listens seem to indicate that there is nothing else as outrageously good as “When You Were Young,” but it’s got its fair share of sing-a-long anthems in waiting. I don’t know if I buy this neo-western look they’ve adopted for the marketing of this record, it comes off a bit contrived and I think that that hurts the music. But on its own, the music holds up to the stuff on their debut, and sometimes surpasses it. At least they are trying here, to make an album’s album (again like the Scissor Sisters) rather than just a collection of sure-fire singles, which I get the impression that they could do pretty easily. They’ve decided to raise the bar for themselves, and I respect that.

The songs on “Sam’s Town” often run out of room to soar. They build and build and build until there is nothing left. This doesn’t make them bad, it is just vary obvious how much they wanted to write an album of stadium size anthems built for massive audience shout backs. I’m reminded of INXS, not that there is similarity in the music, but The Killers take their throne as that fun rock band that isn’t quite U2, but write decent enough songs and are a lot of fun live. Give them a few more albums, if they can keep it up, and they could be the next Duran Duran. Regardless, the Greatest Hits in fifteen years should be as essential as The Pretenders or the Police. Is that too bold?

Songs such as album opener “Sam’s Town” and “Bones” have killer choruses and opaque lyrics that sound cool as long as you don’t think about them too much. Actually, while I’m thinking about it, for all of my rapturous prase of “When You Were Young” I think it rides the line of daft “what is he talking about?” poetry a little too closely. As Springsteen-y as it is, there isn’t a line in there that matches the simple yet sublime “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.” You can put yourself into “Born to Run,” “When You Were Young” is a little too obtuse. But trust me, put it on loud and drive down the highway… it works.

They try to do U2 on “Bling (Confessions of a King)” and equal parts Queen and Springsteen for “The River is Wild” and “For Reasons Unknown.” You find yourself singing along for sure but what is it all about? Flowers says “Run to the hills before they burn,” “Higher and higher, we’re gunna take it down to the wire,” what is he talking about? Maybe it doesn’t matter really, they’re just words that work for the sing-a-long. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but that is truly what these songs are built for. And in that, they succeed.

I'm sounding a little flippant here. This is a good record, and I think it will continue their success. I guess because their so... THE KILLERS that it's easy to make fun of them. You be the judge.


No comments: