The few remaining writers who make some money from writing record reviews must have been thrilled when The Killers’ Day And Age got added to the release schedule, because the first few lines of their review were pretty much already written. You see, the Killers are from Las Vegas. Las Vegas has an image, promoted by the city’s own tourism board, as being a glitzy city full of debauchery that never sleeps. Right? Well, it may be the popular conception of the city, but that doesn’t mean that a) said idea is all that accurate or b) the city’s image should be the premise of every single press piece. Although possibly not the most guilty party, Rob Harvilla trades in the stereotype in the Village Voice this week:
You can imagine that growing up in Las Vegas would give you wildly distorted and entirely wayward ideas about what the rest of the world is actually like, that you would come to regard the pervasive neon, the garish glitz, the profound seediness, the rampant amorality as totally normal and commonplace—a lurid fantasy world that completely defines your reality. But the Strip is not Main Street. That’s not really the Eiffel Tower, that’s not really Caesar’s Palace, that’s not really New York City, and that’s not really a woman.
Are there ersatz qualities to the Killers sound? Possibly. Did those qualities emanate from living in the same town as a replica of the Eiffel Tower? Probably not. I don’t suspect Harvilla has been to Las Vegas, or if he has that he spent any amount of time away from the Strip, but the majority of Las Vegas is indistinguishable from Phoenix or Albuquerque, outside of the video poker machines in convenience stores. To blame Brandon Flowers’ admittedly strange worldview on the lights of the Strip would be as misguided as saying Caetano Veloso’s music is entirely based on Rio’s Carnaval.
Can you help but be aware of the tourist trade when living in Las Vegas? Sure, but there’s an entire economy and tens of thousands of families who live far from the Bellagio fountain. If anything, the Killers are representative of an America misguided by what pop culture and media present as reality, filled with people who take their immediate impressions of things at face value. And it’s a malady that music critics, unfortunately, aren’t immune to.
More Nonsensical Digital-Heartland Anthems From The Killers [Village Voice]