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The Killers strike again with second album

Tae Andrews | Thursday, October 12, 2006

Prior to the Oct. 2 release of their second album, “Sam’s Town,” the Killers’ lead singer Brandon Flowers pronounced the LP “one of the best albums of the past 20 years.” Frontman self-promotion aside, the record is a solid second go-around, although it fails to live up to Flowers’ flowery language.

Breaking onto the scene in May 2004, the Killers quickly resolved questions of what the commotion was all about with the release of their smash album, the appropriately-named “Hot Fuss.”

The Killers quickly went on a spree – landing two Billboard Hot 100 singles with instant anthems “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside.” The success rolled over into 2005 with the Killers releasing two more hit singles, “All These Things I’ve Done” and “Smile Like You Mean It.” By the time the dust cleared and the body count was tallied, the Killers had claimed millions of victims in going platinum three times over.

After gaining notoriety with “Hot Fuss,” the Killers strike again in “Sam’s Town,” their second LP album. However, with their run at the top, the band faced a significant challenge with their follow-up effort: would they be able to sustain their hip indie-rock revolution, or would they be victims of their own success?

Now that the album’s out, the answer is a little bit of both. The band’s winning combination of catchy synthesizer chords, dance-rock guitar riffs and the warbling vocals of lead singer Brandon Flowers hit home again, as evidenced with the success of the album’s first single, “When You Were Young.”

However, “Sam’s Town” doesn’t quite measure up to “Hot Fuss.” To their credit, it appears the band chose a 50-50 philosophy in building “Sam’s Town” – half of the tracks are in the tried-and-true formula of the first album, and half are musical forays into the unknown.

Flowers remains a poet on a mission, delivering his soulful lyrics through a megaphone to the congregation of rock and roll. With inspired lyrics and the driving guitar of Dave Keuning, the indie-rock band has the perfect blend of nostalgic feel-good and the flash and pizzazz of the bright billboards of their Las Vegas hometown.

That being said, the sophomore album has a much more introspective feel as compared to the freshman fun of the first record. To borrow lyrics made famous from their first album, they may not be soldiers, but they nonetheless have soul. The Killers definitely employ a more creative approach with songs such as “Uncle Jonny,” “Bones” and two rather bizarre “Enter-” and “Exit-ludes” which welcome the listener to the album and bid them a fond adieu, respectively.

The band takes some risks and uses more instruments, but undoubtedly some of the tracks will receive mixed reactions, with some people liking the new stuff and some responding to a few out-there concoctions with reactions like, “Whoa, easy there Killers.”

It is particularly interesting to note the various influences on the record. The Internet has been ablaze with critics chirping that “When You Were Young” is an outright mimicry of Bruce Springsteen. In addition, some of the tracks have a Queen-esque feel to them. Without a doubt, this is a hybrid album, both in terms of its influences and its half-anthem, half-explorative nature.

However, the true test of a great album is its playability – the ability to listen without wanting to skip over songs. The first album had it, but this one isn’t quite up to the same standard. That being said, “Sam’s Town” isn’t quite an album to die for, but still has more than enough killer singles to keep campus quads rocking from now until well into 2007. For diehard Killers fans, the band is performing at the Congress Theatre in Chicago, Ill. Oct. 17.