Title - 'Sam's Town' (Island)
Artist - The Killers
Returning to their home town of Las Vegas must have re-energized The Killers. Recorded in the Palms Hotel recording studio, the new release Sam's Town showcases the band's growth with a stronger and more musically diverse sound while still retaining the commercial viability and energy of Hot Fuss. Brandon Flowers and The Killers have created an interesting and creative album that avoids the dreaded sophomore curse and positions them well for future growth.
The addictive opening track "Sam's Town" has the same punch rhythmically as "Somebody Told Me" but is less reliant on synths and more on electric guitar. The piano-based "Enterlude" showcases a softer sound with Brandon Flowers' voice fragile and emotional before it amps up and punches into the rocking first single "When You Were Young." Despite its title, the soaring "Bling(Confession of a King) has shades of the late 80's U2 musically but Flowers can't quite match Bono's vocal style. "For Reasons Unknown" is a low point, but the fun track "Read My Mind" delivers a synth-heavy up-tempo sound that is somewhat reminiscent of the early 80's Talking Heads.
Grounded by a solid bass line, "Uncle Jonny" makes for a great track that thankfully is not overly commercial. Flowers' takes his vocals down a notch for the excellent "Bones" decorated with some great trumpet and sax. The sound of Queen returns with the bombastic track "My List" and "This River Is Wild" is hook-filled and rocking enough to make this a solid second single. "Why Do I Keep Counting?" is much like "My List" in overall sound, but a solid melody keeps this from veering wildly off track. "Exitlude" is a nice touch that speaks to the fans, "We hope you enjoyed your stay ... it's good to have you with us, even if it was only a day."
Clocking in at just under 45 minutes long, Sam's Town is a slick-sounding album. Well produced by Flood and Alan Moulder, the average song length is 4 minutes. The album is vastly different in sound from Hot Fuss, which for me makes it that much better. It is less overtly commercial and instead showcases the growth of a more mature band moving forward musically. Flowers' voice is much rawer and emotional here, not buried under layers of modulation, and the band's sound is more vibrant and diverse. The band notes that this record was influenced by Springsteen, but this album does not have much of a Springsteen sound. What it is, however, is an album that will grow on you with every spin. Recommended.