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The Killers Pick the Wrong “Day & Age”

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Friday, December 5, 2008

The Killers’ first two albums, “Hot Fuss” and “Sam’s Town,” were so well-done that the band surely set itself up to go nowhere but down. This is certainly the case with The Killer’s third studio album, “Day & Age.” The newest album has the vibrant vocal style of “Sam’s Town” and the pop sound of “Hot Fuss” without the genius or creativity of either album.

The first single, “Human,” released in late September, seemed promising, as it had the upbeat and innovative sound of The Killers’ previous efforts. The album as a whole, however, is quite a disappointment. The pop punk band attempts to be experimental by mixing contrasting genres and instead ends up sounding not like The Killers that we all know and love, but rather like a rip-off of other bands.

The opening track, “Losing Touch” would be an excellent and innovative new pop song if it didn’t sound like it belonged on a 1970s Eric Clapton album. Rather than simply drawing influences from classic and glam rock, the band relies on its influences without adding new material this time around.

In “Joy Ride,” the Las Vegas group abandons its usual sound and opts to mimic the likes of the Strokes and Modest Mouse, with an unexpected saxophone riff that doesn’t fit into the context of the song at all.

“This is Your Life” is boring, due to a combination between Flowers’ monotonous vocals, a lack of emotion, an almost unsurprising likeness to U2 and an absence of the edge found in “Sam’s Town.” “I Can’t Stay” flops thanks to its annoying use of a Caribbean beat, harp, and saxophone in the background and inane lyrics. One would not exaggerate to say that this song truly belongs at a Hawaiian luau-themed party in a bingo parlor.

“Neon Tiger” sounds mysteriously similar to MGMT, the indie rock band that broke out earlier this year with their single “Time to Pretend” and a dance-punk sound comparable to that of The Killers. In a recent interview with The Quietus, a rock music and pop culture website, even Brandon Flowers admitted that in writing “Neon Tiger,” “I was trying to write like MGMT,” a group that probably drew influences from The Killers to begin with.

Flowers also mentioned in the Quietus interview that with the album’s second single “Spaceman,” “I was looking for a mixture between [David Bowie’s] ‘Space Oddity’ and [Elton John’s] ‘Rocket Man.'”

As with most of the other tracks on the album, the quality of “Spaceman” hardly makes up for its lack of originality, although it does lack the confusing instrumentation and baffling combinations of musical genres that mark other songs.

“A Dustland Fairytale,” on the other hand, is a pleasant surprise. Certainly, the track starts out slow and follows the same format as many classic rock songs. But the music quickly gains momentum and you can feel the emotion in Flowers’ vocals, reminding one of “Read My Mind” from “Sam’s Town.” The impassioned ballad also has amazing lyrics, “Out here the good girls die. Now Cinderella, don’t you go to sleep, it’s such a bitter form of refuge. Why don’t you know the kingdom’s under siege and everybody needs you?”

Sure, the Nevada-based band was clearly trying to avoid catering to the American population’s musical interests on “Day & Age.” And it’s excellent that The Killers are exploring different sounds rather than relying on the same sound for every album. However, the band simply went in the wrong direction this time. Let’s hope for a better one the next time around.