Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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The Killers

The Killers are hot, hot, hot. The band played "Saturday Night Live." Rolling Stone featured it in a big spread on Las Vegas. Fans were pumped for their second album, "Sam's Town," which was released Tuesday. Could the Killers follow the double-platinum success of "Hot Fuss"? Could it possibly deliver on singer Brandon Flowers' confident prediction it would be one of the best albums in the past 20 years? Now that the album's out, listeners are deciding for themselves. But we couldn't resist scanning the Web to see what the critics are saying about the hometown heroes:

"For all its sonic grandeur, 'Hot Fuss' worked in miniature: A couple argued in the rain, a jealous lover sat daydreaming about his ex and her new beau, androgynous twentysomethings traded whispers in the moonlight. But 'Sam's Town' sees the world in sweeping Cinemascope: mountains, deserts, rivers, horizons, heaven ... 'Sam's Town' is a place where the difference between reaching and overreaching is as slim as the width of a card. 'Nobody ever had a dream 'round here,' Flowers sings on the title track, and though it's not true - Vegas is a city of nothing but dreamers, often to its pathetic detriment - it's easy to see why he might think so. Like the man said: It's a town full of losers, and he's pulling out of here to win."

Josh Eells, Blender

"Why, Killers? Why? It's the oldest story in the New Wave book: (1) Boys get famous wearing makeup and acting tarty to impress girls; (2) Boys wash off makeup and act sincere to impress boys; (3) It never works. Loads of the original New Wave bands fell into this trap, but the difference with the Killers is that we all thought they were too smart to take themselves seriously ...

"The Killers still show musical smarts and wit ... but they sounded a lot smarter playing it cool and a lot more soulful pretending to be cold-hearted, bleary-eyed gigolos. On 'Sam's Town' they seem like they're trying to make a big statement, except they have nothing to say - and who thought a band as shrewd as the Killers would fall into such an obvious trap?"

Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

"Even if the music doesn't really work, it's hard not to listen to it in slack-jawed wonderment, since there's never been a record quite like it - it's nothing but wrong-headed dreams, it's all pomp but no glamour, it's cliches sung as if they were myths. Every time it tries to get real, it only winds up sounding fake, which means it's the quintessential Vegas rock album from the quintessential Vegas rock band."

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com

"The Killers are clearly not content with their indie-rock status; from the explosive introduction of the title track, 'Sam's Town' sounds huge. But, thanks to the earnest vocals of frontman Brandon Flowers, and lyrics still rooted very much in the real world, 'Sam's Town' still manages to sound completely heartfelt and honest. In that respect, the Killers show themselves as potential heirs to U2, with an album packed with soaring guitars and driving basslines ... 'Hot Fuss' may have launched the Killers onto the global stage, but 'Sam's Town' looks set to launch them into orbit."

Ted Kord, Amazon.co.uk

"The Killers are probably going to be around awhile. History teaches us that in each generation there is a desire for immense songs about beautiful losers, carved from canyon-size slabs of major-chord rock, with copious references to fire and desire and wild rivers and (as Flowers sings in 'Read My Mind') 'breakin' out of this two-star town.' There's already a band, touring arenas, that specializes in this sort of thing - but they're getting on in years. Which is where the Killers come in. The MySpace generation has found its Bon Jovi."

Jody Rosen, Entertainment Weekly

"It doesn't take a genius to work out that the source material here is Springsteen, whom Flowers credits as 'making me fall back in love with my America.' Not just any old Bruce but specifically 'Born to Run,' which the Killers apparently studied and dissected, absorbed and rebuilt. Improbably, this proves to be their masterstroke. Selling Springsteen back to his homeland might look like a canny way of ensuring radio play, but there's no disputing the quality of their songs. Indeed, as 'Hot Fuss' sporadically intimated, the Killers are among pop's foremost practitioners."

Dan Martin, Observer Music Monthly

"The Killers wanted to make the 21st century equivalent of U2's transcendental epic, 'The Joshua Tree,' with a bit of Depeche Mode's moody synths and martyr complex thrown in the mix ... It's not quite on par with 'The Joshua Tree' ... but think of it as a wonderful suburb. Bittersweet yet bombastic. Enjoy your stay."

Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal

"While they probably aren't going anywhere (Panic! At The Disco won't be taking their place anytime soon), it's hard to disguise or ignore a slump the size of a landfill. The Killers may have grown a heart for 'Sam's Town,' but they also grew even bigger egos, and it's unlikely that the album's bombast and self-importance will convert any new fans. Brandon Flowers will be happy to know that the Killers did indeed record one of the best albums of the past 20 years, but it already came out in 2004."

Sal Cinquemani, Slant magazine

"The Killers' new terrain is a windswept wasteland where post-punk dance-pop collides with heartland rock and the Cure goes toe to toe with Bruce Springsteen ... It's a grandiose and counterintuitive mash-up - and a whole lot more faux than the comfortably tarty trappings of 'Mr. Brightside.'"

- Joan Anderman, Boston Globe

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