Just over a year after Sam’s Town, The Killers found it appropriate to release Sawdust, an album of b-sides and rarities. Sawdust, not surprising, finds the band jumping all over the map in terms of style. The album moves from the blustery modern rock of “Tranquilize” and “Move Away” to the sharp, upbeat shoulda-been-a-single “Under the Gun” to the decent, but superfluous covers of “Shadowplay,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”
All of the tracks from the Sam’s Town sessions are more from the straight-ahead rock side of the band, they have that U2-meets-Springsteen feel to them, and are not as good as the Hot Fuss leftovers. The best of the Hot Fuss leftovers, “Under the Gun,” “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll” and “The Ballad of Michael Valentine” appeared on the Limited Edition of Hot Fuss from a couple of years back have been re-recorded here, and while not as polished, they do retain the energy of those original recordings.
Unfortunately, most of these tracks are filler. They lack the hooks and the power of their previous material. With the exception of two or three tracks, the band seems to have largely abandoned the dancey-synth rock that made them such a refreshing band in the first place. “Tranquilize” is case in point. This collaboration with Lou Reed sees the band opting for formless mid-tempo rock, which does not suit them.
When all is said and done, this release is just a time-buyer for the band while they write and record their third album. There are a few very strong tracks, but there’s also a reason most of the songs didn’t make it onto either Hot Fuss or Sam’s Town in the fist place.