When The Killers first kicked off all the way back in 2004 with their debut album Hot Fuss, they identified themselves as a strong member of the post-punk revival movement with their simple yet catchy music style. However, their latest production Day & Age marks the group’s attempt to transition into a different subgenre of new wave synthpop. Sadly, the result is too far from what diehard Killers fans are used to. And for new listeners, consider twice before being falsely bedazzled by the beautifully designed album cover.
Day & Age attempts to redirect both the band’s style and lyrical creativity from the youthful and controversial style that captured many fans into a more mature and sophisticated direction. However, the heard-it-before philosophical lyrics and the rather predictable and calm beats make the Killers’ coming of age rather boring. Where old fans could proudly sing along with the car radio while pondering over the fact that “You had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend,” now they can sit back and relax and wonder what on earth “Are we human, or are we dancer?” means.
Conformity seems to be the best answer, but it is a topic so overrated and overused that the real emotions and curiosity behind the sexual ambiguity of “your boyfriend” are still more captivating. This is not the case solely for the album’s first single “Human,” but rather most of the tracks. The deep lyrics are really not that deep; they rather come off as the band trying too hard to let go of their youth.
Lead vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers declared Day & Age the band’s “most playful record.” This statement is somewhat correct in that the group’s experimentation with new sounds and musical instruments is apparent in almost every track. However, many of these changes come as a shock. “Joyride” employs the surprise of saxophone about one minute in while “This is Your Life” begins with the chanting of a chorus.
Day & Age also includes the new addition of electronic music sounds and disco beats such as in “Joyride.” The new sounds make the latest album sound very happy and free, but much less interesting than the emotional music about a little girl’s dreams or Uncle Johnny’s cocaine. Sadly, the entirely new sound that is Day & Age contains very little of the Killers’ former glories. Lead guitarist Dave Keuning’s loud guitar riffs are long gone and Flower’s catchy yet exotic beats are nowhere to be heard.
Though the new album is filled with new experimentation with musical influence, Flowers’ singing is far less exploratory. The new tracks accompanied by his bounded smooth and perfected tone are in reality much less enchanting. However, when judged alone, several tracks on the album do deserve special mentioning.
“Human,” perhaps the most well-known song and the reason that most purchased the album all together, is quite worthy of its fame. Voted the best song of 2008 by readers of Rolling Stone, this single stands out in the alternative rock genre.
“A Dustland Fairytale” manages to capture the old magic of The Killers with Flowers’ crisp keyboard play and emotional voice.
“I Can’t Stay” is a personal favorite. While the beginning is weak, the song builds up to a quite open and free sound that makes the listener feel like he is singing his heart out on a green hill or a mountain.
“The World We Live In” is a perfect example of the group’s transformation. The beginning is very similar to “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, which is a problem that several songs suffer from.
The Killers’ effort to transcend genres and bring something new to the table is much appreciated and sometimes necessary among musicians. Sadly, not everyone is destined to succeed in doing so.