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The Killers look back

Jimmy Kemper | Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Earlier this month, The Killers released their first greatest hits album, “Direct Hit,” giving fans a chance to look back at one of the biggest alternative bands of the past decade and to reflect on what that band has done for the industry.

The Killers were first formed back in 2001, when singer Brandon Flowers moved to Las Vegas. The band started playing at local venues there and quickly became noted for being different from the typical punk, nu metal and rap bands that saturated the Vegas music scene at the time. It wasn’t until 2003, however, that the group managed to sign with British indie label Lizard King Records.

The big break for The Killers came with the release of their first single, “Mr. Brightside,” and the subsequent release of their first full album, “Hot Fuss,” in 2004. “Hot Fuss” was a great album and contained many now-classic hits, including “All of These Things That I’ve Done” and “Somebody Told Me.” Looking back, the record still holds up as one of the best albums of the decade. The 80s-style synth pop, Brandon Flowers’s unique voice and the fun lyrics are absolutely memorable. 

Weeks after finishing the “Hot Fuss” tour, The Killers were back in the studio working on their next hit album, “Sam’s Town.” The record was a huge commercial success and a worthy successor to “Hot Fuss,” showing The Killers were not going to be just a one-hit wonder. 

“Sam’s Town” cobbles together a bizarre range of influences, including Bruce Springsteen, U2, David Bowie and Queen, making this monstrosity work in an absolutely unimaginable way. It’s a completely unique record that nobody expected from the Vegas rock band, but it came together nearly perfectly, with memorable gems such as “When You Were Young,” “Read My Mind” and “For Reasons Unknown.”

With 2008 came The Killers’ third studio album, “Day And Age,” once again showing The Killers still had not run out of tricks. As with “Sam’s Town,” the group decided to switch up their sound again, with a heavy focus on a brighter, more ludicrous pop. As always, Flowers’s vocals were gratifyingly expressive and far-reaching, allowing for success on epic songs such as “Humans” and “Spaceman.” But the constant touring through this time left them wiped out, resulting in a hiatus, during which the band split to work on individual projects.

The Killers came back with a vengeance, though, with 2012’s “Battle Born,” an album that, unfortunately, the group’s longtime fans did not favor quite as much. This underrated album was special, though a sort of rock ‘n’ roll album that rarely gets made anymore, filled with grandiose and excessiveness. “Battle Born” was the culmination of all the work The Killers had done over the past decade and was one of the most interesting releases of 2012. 

With the release of “Direct Hit” this month came two new songs from The Killers: “Shot at the Night,” produced by French electronic duo M83, and “Just Another Girl.” This record is a nice summary of everything the band has done, and the new songs indicate the band is preparing to move forward in a new direction, hopefully one that will keep The Killers as exciting and unique as they have been.

Contact Jimmy Kemper at jkemper2@nd.edu