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Hot Fuss - The Killers

Discussions about the new generations of bands influenced by '80s New Wave and Postpunk

Hot Fuss - The Killers

Postby lbworshiper » Thu May 19, 2005 7:27 am

Nevada band The Killers is the most recent "the" band to find themselves on radio, MTV, and for that matter network television (The O.C. specifically). Much less "garage" than their contemporaries, they instead rely on the Brits for influence. Chipper rock-pop, clean production, a flair for the dramatic, synthesizers, and catchy melodies are what made Duran Duran, New Order, and Depeche Mode popular and it is what also helps to drive The Killers to success.

I can only guess that to some kids The Killers are an original entity. Look to British eighties pop and more recently other bands like Pulp, Suede, and most recently Franz Ferdinand for some perspective on the issue. This is a band that sounds distinctly British yet actually hails from Las Vegas, Nevada of all places. Founded when guitarist David Keuning placed an ad in a newspaper and vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers answered The Killers were born in 2002. Mark Stoermer (bass) and Ronnie Vannucci (drums) joined the mix and the lineup was complete. A British indie label signed them, and shortly the foursome had a hit in the form of 2003 single Mr. Brightside.

…and so the British hype machine took over…

Debut Hot Fuss (on international label Island) has thus far peaked at 26 on the Billboard top 200 since being released in June 2004. Besides selling well, it earned a place as one of ten finalists for the year's Shortlist Music Prize along side Franz Ferdinand, Air, Loretta Lynn, The Streets, and Wilco to name a few. While I don't think it is of even vaguely high enough quality to land this level of acclaim, the moderately inconsistent Hot Fuss is entirely entertaining.

If you're a person that likes deep lyrics and thoughtful arrangements, may I suggest you put them aside before jumping into The Killers. There's nothing profound about Hot Fuss, but who needs profundity when you have singles like Somebody Told Me and Mr. Brightside on which to nosh. Even better, the album is consistently fun. There are some lesser offerings, but even the less enjoyable moments prove at least momentarily satisfactory--they just don't really give me any impression of The Killers one way or the other. It also comes as no shock to me that the first half of the album is the best. I also think the songs that have been released as singles are probably the most appealing of Hot Fuss.

My favorite track is Somebody Told Me. It is the singular reason why I finally broke down and bought The Killers' debut. The hip, swaggering song provides a perfect emotional release or an irreverent soundtrack to my daily commute. Feverishly paced, it combines an obviously pop melody with rock guitars and the occasional synth. It's the most perfect and immediately entertaining song on Hot Fuss and as hard as I try it leaves me singing the chorus:

Well somebody told me
You had a boyfriend
Who looks like a girlfriend
That I had in February of last year
It's not confidential
I've got potential
A rushin', a rushin' around

If Somebody Told Me doesn't get you off your seat and make you dance like a drunken chimpanzee around your house/office/car then I am forced to doubt your humanity. Mr. Brightside is similarly entertaining. It's a shimmering pop track complete with kicky vocals and catchy melody. I don't think it's nearly as dynamic as Somebody Told Me, but it is still one of the best songs of the album.

Outside of the two hit singles, The Killers provide plenty of other pleasurable tunes. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine and All These Things That I've Done are great songs. Flowers doesn’t have a unique voice, but he still performs with energy and excitement. He, in fact, reminds me of Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand fame. It's hard to go wrong with anything on the first half of Hot Fuss really. The last real outstanding song is Andy You're a Star. The track is easily one of my favorites. It's darker and stranger than most of the other material. Without tracks to break up the up-tempo pop the album may have proven boring. Fuzzy and intense, Andy You're a Star is also one of the more thoughtful songs.

Hot Fuss falters slightly as it draws to a close. On Top is a fine enough song, but there is something to be said for moderation with synthesizers. Sounding like something directly from 1980 (or so), the song has a good melody but the keyboards hurt what could have otherwise been a fine song. This is the first moment the album really missteps. Change Your Mind is even more entertaining, but once again the synths bog the whole production down. Believe Me Natalie and Midnight Show are nice, innocuous tracks. Unfortunately they are also forgettable. Fortunately for The Killers, their debut is capped off nicely by Everything Will Be Alright. Another slower and darker song from the Vegas pop band, it shows that maybe they have something more up their sleeve on a second go around.

Hot Fuss is an entertaining but not excellent album. I'm torn because of the contrast between the forgettable or synth-laden tracks and those like Everything Will Be Alright, Mr. Brightside, Andy You're a Star and Somebody Told Me. If you're looking for a decent alt-pop album with a British flair then you may like Hot Fuss. No promises though.
Take On Me
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Postby ghosty » Thu May 19, 2005 8:21 am

I've been collecting the various remixes of "Mr.Brightside" which push the band even further into Depeche Mode/New Order territory. I agree the album is uneven but the singles live up the album's title.
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Postby Frau_Blucher » Thu May 19, 2005 12:38 pm

All These Things That I've Done...the highlight of the album for me. Can't figure out why that's not a single over the two radio-killed tracked. There's brilliant writing in that song, but I think you nailed it that it's very good, not great.

Now Brit
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Postby Horrorgrrl » Thu May 19, 2005 2:22 pm

The song "Jenny (Was A Friend Of Mine)" is, IMHO, the strongest track on the album, and subsequently my favorite.

The Jet Set
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Postby Odessey » Thu May 26, 2005 2:24 am

I've been collecting their 12" remixes as well (Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, Smile Like you mean it). I think they sound great IMO.
Switchin' to Glide
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Location: USA

Postby schwenko » Thu May 26, 2005 2:40 am

I liked them doing "Crystal" [:D]
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