The Killers

Day & Age

Written by: TL on 23/12/2008 19:21:09

Even though some of us writers actually managed to handle all our promos before our December 19th deadline (poke EW, AB, AP, poke! :D) that doesn't mean that we're totally left to our own devices for the duration of 2008. While we may have met our official obligations to the labels with whom we cooperate, we still have that unspoken obligation to you, our dear readers, to whom it really should be our duty to review everything that could be considered relevant to a site titled "Rockfreaks.net", and as a direct consequence, the dying days of this year will at least see this writer work his way through some popular titles that didn't get picked up immediately upon their release - The first one being "Day & Age", the recently released third album from American mainstream-rockers The Killers.

By moving from an originally British sounding brand of indie-rock on "Hot Fuss", to an all-American Springsteen-ish rock-story on "Sam's Town", The Killers already proved once that they can be quite the stylistic chameleons, and in that respect, the new "Day & Age" album doesn't disappoint. The melancholic grandeur of "Sam's Town"'s rock sound has been traded in for a dreamy pop sound reminiscent of 80's phenomena like A-Ha and Duran Duran, however, where the move from "Hot Fuss" to "Sam's Town" was one that I applauded, this new change of direction doesn't quite receive a standing ovation from me. You see "Day & Age" can hardly even be considered a 'rock' album, as almost all traces of rock's grandfather instrument, the guitar, have been removed from the soundscape. Instead, most songs are based on light drumming and up-beat basslines with the melodies being provided by a diverse array of other instruments that I'll bet my fortune are really just sampled. Whether that's the case or not, pianos, trombones, saxophones and a load of other stuff is in there, but only ever as a sideshow to the main event, namely the voice of Brendan Flowers and his lyricism.

As you might have guessed, removing the guitar almost entirely from the equation (except from a few chords here and there, a lame disco riff in "Joy Ride" and some garage sounding soloing in "A Crippling Blow") isn't something that steals any sympathy from me, but hey, if the songs are alright, it must surely be forgivable right? So are the songs alright? Not really. Let's just say that if you've heard lead-single "Human", you've heard the best there is, and while I do admit that the vocals and words of that song are quite memorable, I think most will support the claim that it's not the best The Killers can do. The only other songs that come close to making a positive impression are the passionate "A Dustland Fairytale" and the spacy progression of "Goodnight, Travel Well". As for the rest, it really sounds like The Killers have been too preoccupied by stylistic experimentation to actually finish the songs, to a point where you as a listener feel like taking them home with you. That is all except their guitarist, who must surely just have been on vacation while this record was being recorded.

So yeah, while The Killers might still make a killing in record sales, I'm not giving "Day & Age" my recommendation. Both song- and rock-wise it's a weaker effort than both "Hot Fuss" and "Sam's Town", which the fans of guitar-splintering rock'n'roll will have a good laugh over, while even those with sentiments towards sophisticated pop music can recognize that this particular turkey is missing the stuffing. In fact, the dreamy lightness of it makes it gastronomically more equal to candyfloss, but to stick with the Christmas puns, let's just say that I hope this is a package that doesn't find its way to the bottom of my tree.

Download: "Human", "Goodnight, Travel Well"
For The Fans Of: A-Ha, Duran Duran
Listen: myspace.com/thekillers

Release Date 24.11.2008
Island Records

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