The Killers’ sophomore effort Sam’s Town (named after a casino in their native Las Vegas) was quite possibly the most anticipated record of 2006. The band achieved surprising success with 2004’s Hot Fuss and its singles dominating airwaves and music video stations. With Sam’s Town The Killers stand to repeat that success and may even dethrone Coldplay as the Next U2.
And there it is, the inevitable U2 comparison. While their influence may not have been overly apparent on Hot Fuss, it certainly shines through here. Not that it’s a bad thing, far from it. Like U2, the Killers have a knack for creating grand and stadium ready choruses. The superb “Bling (Confessions of a King)” recalls Joshua Tree-era U2, as Brandon Flowers sings with an urgency and passion not unlike Bono. On another highlight (and first single) “When You Were Young” Flowers evokes a Springsteen-esque nostalgia.
So, it becomes readily apparent since Hot Fuss the band has been listening to U2 and the Boss. And that seems like the direction their music is headed; producers Alan Moulder and Flood toughen up the band’s sound accordingly. This makes Sam’s Town a less fun record compared to Hot Fuss, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as good. The only song that recalls the good-time-on-the-dancefloor-ness of their debut is “Bones”, which is possible the best song they’ve written yet. It’s a pure pop masterpiece, with a soaring chorus and horns to match.
The album does however take a couple of missteps. The book ending tracks “enterlude” and “exitlude” are needles, pretentious, and feel like they’re only there to pad the album up to twelve tracks. “For Reasons Unknown” and “This River is Wild” feel like filler, not that they’re bad, just by the numbers. And finally, “Why Do I Keep Counting?” is a virtual rewrite of their previous hit “All These Things That I’ve Done”, but that doesn’t hold it back from being a good song in its own right.
What we’re left with is a band maturing and wanting world domination, and having the ability to achieve that success. Despite its flaws, Sam’s Town is a very good record and a step in the right direction. All they need now is a little more focus and a little less self-indulgence.