The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



What’s all the Fuss about?

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Killers may fall into the same post-punk revival category as bands like The Bravery and Fall Out Boy.

But unlike other pop punk bands of our generation, Brandon Flowers and crew pull off their music with poise and style while delivering insightful yet relatable lyrics and giving off energy you could clean your room to.

The Las Vegas band’s 2004 debut studio album “Hot Fuss” was an excellent indie pop album at that brought them quick mainstream success.

“Hot Fuss” would go on to receive five Grammy nominations, and even earned a spot as one of the five most recent albums in Robert Dimery’s “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.”

“Hot Fuss” certainly has classic rock influences and a peppy glam musical style reminiscent of David Bowie and Duran Duran, appealing to fans with a layered sound that combines loud yet controlled indie garage vocals with simple dance beats and electronic hooks. The Killers create a music genre here that is still rock, but rock that you can dance to.

Beginning with the narrative confrontation of murder in opener “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and later “Midnight Show,” it’s made clear that the album’s lyrics address a wide array of issues and not just the stereotypical relationship problems. “Andy, You’re a Star” confronts a stalker, while “Believe Me Natalie” addresses the issue of AIDS.

The lyrics are dramatic, intriguing and narrative while still maintaining a universal meaning that’s relatable to everyone.

The band’s first single, “Mr. Brightside,” demonstrates this universality in the lyrics (“Jealousy, turning saints into the sea/ Swimming through sick lullabies/ Choking on your alibis/ But it’s just the price I pay/ Destiny is calling me/ Open up my eager eyes/ ‘Cause I’m Mr. Brightside”). Along with the catchy chorus, the dramatic yet all-inclusive lyrics could probably explain the widespread success of the song, which has been covered by the likes of jazz singer Paul Anka, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and even our own Undertones. While the songs often give off an upbeat air, Brandon Flowers also delivers insight in his music that allows introspectiveness in the listener. For example, “Smile Like You Mean It” discusses an empty relationship and recalling better times and memories when life is hard. The theme sounds cliché, but the band pulls it off with fresh outlook and style (“Looking back at sunsets on the Eastside/ We lost track of the time/ Dreams aren’t what they used to be/ Some things slide by so carelessly”).

Much like “Smile Like You Mean It,” the song “All These Things That I’ve Done” is simply about life in general, growing up and moving on from the past (“I wanna stand up, I wanna let go/ You know, you know – no you don’t, you don’t/ I wanna shine on in the hearts of men/ I wanna a meaning from the back of my broken hand”). Led by piano, the coming-of-age anthem also features an extended gospel choir-like refrain of “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier,” instilling the soulfulness of the Killers’ music.

The Killers have changed much in musical style since “Hot Fuss.” Brandon Flowers took on more vibrato vocals for their second studio album, 2006’s “Sam’s Town,” also featuring pounding guitar riffs and keyboard sounds which lacked dynamics for good reason.

In 2007, the Nevada-based group released “Sawdust,” a compilation album of B-sides, rarities, remixes and covers, including an impressive version of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay.”

The band recently released an upbeat yet emotional single called “Human” off of their new album, “Day & Age,” which is set for U.S. release tomorrow, November 25.