100 for 2000 – #69. The Killers – Sam’s Town

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2006 – #9. The Killer’s – Sam’s Town
(Island)

Hype bands. What do you do with them? The Killers got so huge so quickly, and on face value, sounding like 50 other bands. All those big early songs had been beaten through my brain at various clubs and bars. I avoided this band like the plague. Look, before this album, I thought this band was British, if I cared at all. Then came Sam’s Town who turned it all around (if only for a bit).

There’s a one word reason for this – Springsteen. The hype around this record was that it’s their Springsteen record (something Arcade Fire were also touting). So, I figured this will be good for a laugh. But that first single. When You Were Young, was all manner of awesome. That 80s keyboard was gone. Some really tough guitar. And then there’s that awesome, uplifting, almost gospel release that Springsteen mines so well. I loved the anthemic but absolutely nonsense lyrics. And the film clip – the sweaty, Peckinpah-esque film clip – all pointed to a different band from the NME hyped days.

I got my hands on a copy of the album. Amber and Pete really liked it, and it was yet another radio staple here in the UK. Bones, with it’s Tim Burton film clip, followed. In fact, that era of the Killers had quite an influence on Lazy Susan, especially in a dress sense. I was liking Brandon Flowers more in interviews, and a Live At Abbey Road session where they covered Dire Strait‘s Romeo And Juliet was fantastic. I was starting to like this band quite a bit.

Then came Read My Mind. This song just blew me out of the water. It had that Springsteen thing – the uplifting, escapism thing. But they return to more familiar musical ground – it’s a slow buzzing rock song with a bit more of a dance-y 80s beat. And it’s buried under such great imagery – main streets, two star towns, etc. And that Eno keyboard drone! So great.

Not to read too much into it, but gee I loved this song. It is the 4th most played song on my iPod. And yeah, having gotten out of Sydney, I could connect with this song. The open road of infinite possibilities. And the hook – Flowers asks, seductively, if you can read his mind. It’s about making a connection. Finding someone who gets you in this sea of madness.

Oh, and the film clip is very cool.

There are other highlights on this album – Sam’s Town, Reasons Unknown, The River Is Wild. But the last few years have not been kind. The pompousness of the sound has dated. But the handful of well written songs live. Sadly, the Killers moved back to the dance-y electronica (which they actually do well). Their last record had some great songs but more duds. I loved the ambition of this album, and I wish they said more. I was wanting the new anthemic band for a generation (and luckily I only had to wait one more year to discover them).

Read My Mind and those other songs I loved still get to me. My little flirtation with the Killers is probably over, and this record is generally regarded as their worse. Oh well. Maybe someone else in the sea of madness agrees with me and I will find them one day.

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