The Killers 

Sam's Town

Killers vocalist Brandon Flowers makes it very clear that he wants to be Bruce Springsteen on the rock band's October 3 release Sam's Town. Note the Boss-esque quivers and gravitas-filled sentiments (Can we climb this mountain? I don't know) decorating over-the-top single "When You Were Young." While it's admirable that the members of this Las Vegas quartet want to be taken seriously as musicians and lyricists on their sophomore album, who ever said we wanted them to be our moral conscience?

Zippy, new-wave beatfests full of ambiguous poetry about boyfriends and girlfriends and love and sex comprise the best of the Killers on their 2004 debut, Hot Fuss. When the band attempts to be deep, it tends to come across as forced grandeur. Sam's Town lyrics like Don't you wanna feel my bones on your bones? are about as sexy as a root canal, while lines elsewhere such as So I ran with the devil/Left a trail of excuses/Like a stone on the water/The elements decide my fate are cribbed straight from Bono 101. (And that's not even mentioning the unfortunate abundance of Ye Olde Americana phrases throughout the disc.)

Paradoxically, these megalomaniac delusions redeem Town and make it superior to Fuss in almost every way. Strong melodies and memorable hooks are the rule rather than the exception (highlighted by the quasipsychedelic fuzz-drone on "Uncle Jonny"). Keyboards are integrated far better (check the airy synths sneaking in under U2-like ribbon riffs on the title track), making the Killers seem less new-wave and more muscular. Add in flashes of that ol' "We can do anything together, babe!" charm (But I know that I can make it/as long as somebody takes me home), and Sam's Town is well worth visiting despite its flaws.

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