Since the last couple artists have been a bit more obscure, I decided to mix things up this week with a mainstream hit. Sam’s Town, the second studio album by The Killers, was critically panned across the board, with most reviewers citing the genre-shift to “generic” US classic rock as the culprit. It must have been a time when it was popular to hate on Bruce Springsteen because his influence on the album certainly didn’t get any love in the reviews. Fans didn’t listen to the critics, however, and the album debuted at number one on the UK chart and number two on the US Billboard 200. Now over 10 years later, critics have re-examined the album calling it one of the most underrated of the decade and for good reason. As rock & roll slowly makes it exit from the modern day music conversation, Sam’s Town stands as one of the last great entries in the genre.
Without a doubt you have heard the most popular singles on the album, “When You Were Young” and “Read My Mind”, and they hold up now more than ever. Some would suggest that these songs were designed for the arena rock era, to compete with the Coldplays and U2s of the world. That with Sam’s Town, The Killers were looking to build on the success of Hot Fuss with even bigger anthems and power ballads. Instead, I actually think these tracks are core to The Killers’ identity and were created by distilling their instrumental talents and Brandon Flowers’ vocal talent to their natural form. The auto-tune and overproduction of Hot Fuss has been replaced by pure rock, albeit rock with some emo tendencies. I think the sound is so fitting for a band from Las Vegas - grandiose, exciting and depressing at the same time.
Personally, I think that the band has been on a downward trajectory since Sam’s Town. Image conscious as ever, they have played it far too safe and have lost some of that spark that made early Killers so much fun to listen to. The wonderful catchiness of Hot Fuss and the band’s heart and soul encapsulated in Sam’s Town will always resonate with me and will surely be worth listening to for many years to come.
1. "Sam's Town" - 4:05
2. "Enterlude" - 0:49
3. "When You Were Young" - 3:39
4. "Bling (Confession of a King)" - 4:08
5. "For Reasons Unknown" - 3:32
6. "Read My Mind" - 4:06
7. "Uncle Jonny" - 4:25
8. "Bones” - 3:46
9. "My List" - 4:08
10. "This River Is Wild" - 4:38
11. "Why Do I Keep Counting?" - 4:23
12. "Exitlude" - 2:24