Idolator Travel Tip: Avoid ‘Sam’s Town’

samstown.jpgSomewhere 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]

  • Dan Gibson

    Don’t hold the crappiness of the Killers record against the legendary Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, however. The rooms are very comfortable, and the bowling center is fantastic. Damn shame Brandon Flowers slandered that fine establishment with his album title.

  • SirLoin

    I downloaded this – yeah, that’s right, I fuckin’ STOLE it. Why? Because I would rather take my 14 bucks downtown and get a handjob from a leperous tranny hooker than pick this up at the local Best Buy. I remember a Rolling Stone interview with these guys where Brandon Flowers said he met a wasted Bono at a party, and Bono said to him “Spare us the ‘interesting’ second album.” Shoulda listened to him, Brandon, that dude’s met the pope.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I’m actually kind of sad about this one, genuinely. Like the Killers or not, it’s better to have a representative in the mainstream than not, and I doubt they survive this.

    Also, let’s not get carried away with sophomore-record criticisms–it seems to me the same people that were shanking the Strokes for making Is This It: Part Deux are doing the same to the Killers for the opposite. Doesn’t mean the album isn’t wretched, but still.

  • Ned Raggett

    Flowers should have remained with Blush Response. Then they would have been *this* close to opening for Erasure one day.

  • Ned Raggett

    it’s better to have a representative in the mainstream than not

    Uh…a representative of what?

  • Bob Loblaw

    Of white-boy youth culture, I suppose. I would have said a watered-down representation of the indie generation, but I know how indignant and righteous all the indie kids would get…

  • Doctor Lingerie

    Bono could have provided Flowers some sage-like mustache advice, too. Come to think of it: He should just keep Bono on retainer as “Serious Rock Star” Consultant. How else will we get to see Brandon Flowers in bug-eyed sun-goggles, mingling among starving Pygmies in a camouflage suit with some do-gooder actor?

  • joe bananas

    the thing that’s especially disheartening is that there are pieces of a really good record in Sam’s Town, they’re just assembled all wrong. Also, apparently anything worth singing is worth singing by 50+ people.

  • Ned Raggett

    Of white-boy youth culture, I suppose.

    …I’m looking for the words.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Let us know when you figure it out, champ.

  • ohHELLnaw

    Has anyone read Ultragrrl’s barely coherent deconstruction of Brandon’s lyrics? An example from her blog:

    “But quite possibly the most meaningful line in all of Brandon’s lyrical history is:
    “How do you know that you’re right, when you’re not nervous anymore.” – Just think about that line for a second. I’m not sure if it was a fluke, or what, but it’s probably one of the more introspective concepts I’ve encountered in a lyric. Just think about it… If a decision comes to easy for you, it means that you’ve got no options to battle it against. You can’t be 100% certain that something is right unless there’s another something that could also be right… you need to internally process which “thing” is better. It’s totally some chinese-meditation shit that brian battjer was explaining to me about the concept of choices. Anyway, when you make a choise about something, it almost doesnt matter unless you think about that choice and have conflicts about it internally… ANYWAY, that is what this line is about… to me at least.”

    I remember the first time I was high, too.

  • shallowrewards

    Tarts of Compatibilism

  • Brian Raftery

    I have to say, I was also genuinely disappointed by this one, as I really liked Hot Fuss. Sam’s Town didn’t have to be as good, but I was hoping for at least a good single or two.

    Maybe we should have seen it coming: I remember checking them out in Cleveland last year, and as Flowers hid behind that dinky keyboard and belted out the line “My Uncle Johnny does cocaaaaaiinnnne,” I thought, “Holy shit. They don’t have it in them.”

  • Van Hagar

    Someone take the keyboard away from that ‘grrl. Instead of her blog’s tab button reading “publish,” it should say, “Are you sure you want to put this shit out there?”

    But I have to wonder: is hating-on-the-Killers the new loving-on-the-Killers?

  • Brian Raftery

    I think there’s an element of the unavoidable backlash, but the album is also just really, really bad. Sheffield’s review was clearly written from the viewpoint of a disappointed fan.

  • tigerpop

    “He hasn’t fallen victim to the AutoTune plague.”Sounds like he should have.

  • Bjork Rhymes With Pork

    Bad album or not, “Why Do I Keep Counting?” is totally un-shitty. The sheer un-shittiness of that one song deserves at least 3 stars on the RS scale.

    Fuck, Modern Times got five stars, and there aren’t any songs on it.

  • urbanjewess

    Somewhere out there Brandon Flowers is sobbing while cursing the day he decided to grow that mustache.

  • Cheap Shot

    They might as well do a cover of DM’s ‘Personal Jesus’.

  • Chris Molanphy

    Thank you (Idolator et al.) for acknowledging the Depechiness of the Killers’ new look/sound/approach. Everybody’s so besotted with that “Born to Run” breakdown in the middle of “When You Were Young” and Flowers’ references to Broooooce that they’re missing the real inspiration. First time I saw the new video I thought, “Hey, Flowers: 1988 and Anton Corbijn called – they want their ‘Behind the Wheel’ clip back.”

    Too bad Flowers ended up writing “I Feel You” instead of “Personal Jesus.” The “Jesus” lyric notwithstanding.

  • SirLoin

    I genuinely loved the first half of “Hot Fuss.” I think that record is derivative as all hell but also more enjoyable than most records that came out that year.

    The problem now is that Brandon Floweres got “Coldplay Syndrome” way too fast. Coldplay are not the next U2, even though many sycophantic fans and record execs told them they were. I have a feeling that the same swarm of kiss-assery hung low over the heads of the Killers during the writing of their new record, and being that Brandon is not the humblest of men to ever walk the face of the earth further precipitated the decline in writing.

    Now just sit back and wait for the third “return to form” record. Will dance rock still be fashionable in 2008?

  • KurticusMaximus

    The Killers were good because they made that song, “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine,” or something like that. Anyway, the bass in that song was nifty. “Mr. Brightside” was good too.

    I don’t mind “When You Were Young” off of the new album, but everything else pretty much blows. And damn them for associating The Boss with this flop, though it’s pretty obvious that’s what Mr. Flowers was aiming for with some of these lyrics.

    I’m going to go listen to Springsteen Live/1975-’85 now.

  • sarahblooms

    The person who really suffers in all of this is Bruce Springsteen.

    Note to musicians other than Bruce: There is one Boss. You are not him. You will never be him. Please shut up.

  • tee.

    It’s just much too much — too many singers, too many bridges, too many bombastic vocals, too many bad lyrics. I can forgive a derivitive sound, and I can forgive favouring a catchy hook over all else, but I can’t forgive a mess.

    What I do find amusing here, though, is that after being called out by Arcade Fire for touring forever on one album instead of getting new stuff out there, Killers are the first with a new album out. Battle of the over-hyped bands, indie vs. mainstream version!

  • IvyLeagueMetalhead

    Brandon, Brandon, Brandon…maybe the snickering dismissals this album’s been collecting will get it through your artfully-mussed head: You are not The Boss. Hell, Springsteen didn’t start out wanting to be The Boss. He was aiming for a cross between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, but he was just too damn optimistic.

  • ronnsprocket

    i got the uk released hot fuss from torrentreactor or whatever the hell that site was. i hated that album for like 2 weeks. then, it grew. i have been listening to sams town for 3 or 4 days now and like it more than when i started listening. not that i love it, but, its growing, not uh,-not growing. i just think people need to give this time. recent anthemic albums (mcr and a&a) have no depth, just synth and sillyness. i truly think that the killers are a talanted bunch of guys that can pull this album off. seeing them live is a treat, i mean, after all- they were just a vegas show.

    oh, and by the way- IMO, i think its a good thing when a band tries different things on new albums- DM- speak & spell and violater. light and dark (with a few gray albums in between)

  • Peter DeWolf

    If you take out the “Enterlude” and “Exitlude” and tack on the two bonus tracks it becomes a somewhat better album.

    Seriously, try it.

    Speaking of the “ludes,” the producers that didn’t warn them that these were monumentally bad ideas, should be banned from the music industry.


    “oh, and by the way- IMO, i think its a good thing when a band tries different things on new albums”

    The Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique rings a clear bell with me. I remember when NO ONE liked that album and the critics slammed it. I loved the Beastie Boys with their first album and while I was disappointed at first with their 2nd album not sounding like their first one with the Rick Ruben production, Paul’s Boutique is one of my favorite, if not THE most favorite album they have IMHO.

    Give all albums time fells/gals and let time be the judge…

    “Who needs actions when you have words?” – - K. Cobain

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