19 November 2008

Day & Age

Well the new Killers album "Day & Age" has found its way on to teh internetz, only 4 days before the proper release date. By modern standards, that's a pretty remarkable feat, considering how many new LPs have leaked weeks in advance (namely Favourite Worst Nightmare last year).

As a fan of The Killers, I've been anticipating this since Human also magically appeared on the web, and going by the reviews & tracks floating around already, as well as their Jools Holland performance a few weeks ago it's sounding like a classic already (well apart from NME, giving it 7/10, Scrooges). While the album may take some time to actually lodge itself in my memory, I'll just post some initial thoughts for now
  1. Losing Touch - Announcing itself in a wave of feedback, the Foals-esque brass section kicks in, reminding us of "Bones". Could this hint towards another "Sam's Town"? Nope, since synths immediately take over and send the song back to classic Killers territory. Brandon Flowers' lyrics give a feeling of confusion and being lost, something conveyed in recent interviews. Heck even the title is a dead give away to his feelings right now. But somehow, it fits perfectly with the slightly melancholic mood of the song. and to top it off, an OTT solo from Dave Keunig, befitting of his current image of Slash's camp cousin from the 70's
  2. Human - Denser? Dancer? Dancers? I don't know, every time I listen the chorus changes (although Flowers has confirmed it's dancer, in reference to a quote from Hunter S. Thompson...still no excuse for the pretty awful grammar). Anyways, this tune rattles along like a long-lost Johnny Cash-New Order collaboration, built for stadiums/drunken sing-alongs/MSN screennames.
  3. Spaceman - And that makes it three brilliant songs in a row for "Day & Age". Some fears for another half-good, half-filler album are starting to creep in, but for now I'm just enjoying the ride. "Spaceman" is the sound of The Killers actually having some fun for the first time in the last 4 years. Beginning with a "ohh oh ohh" hook to possibly rival "Chelsea Dagger", or at least Ruby, Ruby, fucking Ruby, Spaceman barely lets up the pace throughout. Upto now it's a highlight of a rather good album, packed with synthy goodness and a funky bassline for the middle eight, right before the epic chorus kicks in one final time. It'll be a highlight of the festivals next summer.
  4. Joy Ride - Well this is unexpected. Another funked out bassline and a samba feel for track four. You wouldn't have heard this on "Sam's Town" or "Hot Fuss". It almost sounds like some Friendly Fires tracks, just without the late 80's rave feeling.I'm not too sure what to make of this though. The chorus feels understated for the band, with a slight country feel to it.... make of that what you will. Another attempt at "ohh ohh ohh"-ing near the end feels a little desperate, and over all the track just seems a little too kitsch.
  5. A Dustland Fairytale - Now if the titles doesn't sound perfect for Bruce Springsteen or "Sam's Town", then the lyrics will. "Just another white trash county kiss", "Like some kind of slick chrome American prince"; it's lines like these which show how far The Killers have come from worshipping anything British and from 20 years ago on "Hot Fuss". ADF begins with a soft piano intro and eventually bursts into life as an downbeat Americana anthem. Deserves repeated listenings to truly appreciate, in my opinion
  6. This Is Your Life - Okay, weird. An a cappella intro, mixed with an alien-sounding synth and yet again, lyrics that could have come from "Sam's Town". It would appear at this point, the album is the distillation of the previous two; danceable beats and layers of keyboards mixed on top of feelings of longing and pride with a smidge of bombast. Another grower, which slows down the pace of the album slightly, this could be The Killers maturing past slightly hollow sentiments and overly-mainstream songs to a truly interesting band.
  7. I Can't Stay - Seems like the maturity thing may be right, at least in expanding their musical horizons. Harps, Spanish guitar, clarinet, steel drums, saxophone and luscious strings adorn this track, fleshing out and improving it indefinitely. Despite the heavy amount of instrumentation, I Can't Stay sounds simple, yet heartfelt. A hidden gem.
  8. Neon Tiger - ....in which Flowers says he was attempting to write like MGMT. Hmmm.... Having heard this on Jools Holland, I already know that this is another highlight of the album. The chorus deserves to shouted from arenas, stadiums and muddy fields across the planet, whilst the song as a whole harks back to the pink blazer-and-eyeliner days of Brandon & Co. Still can't see the MGMT connection, apart from the Neon Tiger thing, something which the seemingly perpetual stoners could think up.
  9. The World We Live In - A big pop moment of the album. The synths (yes, there's an abundance of them) take over once again, with a steady beat and simple bass for the first time on the album. It's another simple track, slightly dreamy vocals, strings reminiscent of "Everything Must Go" by Manic Street Preachers (well in my mind anyway), it could be classed as a "slowie", if it weren't for the fact that Flowers comes up trumps yet again in the chorus department. Once again, should they play any festivals, they can expect this one chanted back at them.
  10. Goodnight, Travel Well - The longest Killers track at almost 7 minutes, this one is definitely interesting. Ominous and brooding, Brandon's mournful voice makes this the most downbeat Killers song ever. Given the subject (Dave Keunig's mother's death), it's pretty understandable. As the song progresses, it develops into an epic album closer and a welcome departure from the poptastic indie disco of their back catalogue.
Overall, the album is everything you expect, and at the same, not what you expected. The Killers seem to like being contrary. On one hand, "Day & Age" is a perfect pop album; you can dance to it, smile to it, cry to it, examine it, break up to it etc etc. But on the other hand, it's a brave experiment and expansion for the band. Elements which wouldn't have appeared earlier in their career are now the focal point of many songs, and for this they have to be applauded. Influences fly in from everywhere: New Order, Bowie, Springsteen, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys. Mixed with The Killers knack for hooks and bombast, it creates an album for almost everyone. It may not have reached the heights of Sam's Town yet for me personally, but give it a month or two, you might see a change.
Bring on album four is all I can say.



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