Somewhere between the monster success of “Mr. Brightside” and the preparation of their second album, Sam’s Town, the Vegas rock act The Killers decided to get Serious. They ditched their glitz for a “Western” look apparently inspired by mid-period Depeche Mode, and lead singer Brandon Flowers started running his mouth about the American dream and how Bruce Springsteen was his new muse.
Unfortunately, those warning signs have been borne out by Sam’s Town, which lands in stores Oct. 3. It plods along, audibly straining underneath its own weight–probably because it’s been crammed with more sonics than all three Bat Out Of Hells combined. And then there’s Flowers’ voice, which–well, let’s say one nice thing about this record: He hasn’t fallen victim to the AutoTune plague.
Following up a monster-selling record isn’t an easy task, and it probably inspires a lot of soul-searching and creative agita. But what makes Sam’s Town such an excruciating listen is that you can actually hear The Killers overthinking every step they make. The playfulness that made “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” irresistible radio-rock is almost completely absent. (Flowers’ atrocious lyrics, however, are still in full effect.) In its place is an album that prefaces its outro–sorry, its “Exitlude”–with a bombastic kettle-drum fanfare, a confused, overblown mess that even Rolling Stone couldn’t bring itself to like.
The Killers – This River Is Wild [MP3, link removed]
The Killers – Sam’s Town [isohunt]