When The Killers first made their mark back in 2004, it was in a blaze of neon and eyeliner. Debut ‘Hot Fuss’ was all new wave synths, bundled together with enough catchy choruses to rule indie discos for decades to come. But, with the release of its follow-up, the quartet cast aside the Brit comparisons and swapped them for a different kind of showmanship.
‘Sam’s Town’ was, and will remain, an album striving to epitomise the heart of America. While ‘Hot Fuss’ plonked itself firmly in the middle of 80s British synth pop, their second record sought inspiration from a lot closer to their Las Vegas home. Even the title came complete with its own personal anecdote – it was emblazoned on a sign that bassist Mark Stoermer could see from his childhood bedroom window - working to show that the four-piece really were creatures of their environment after all.
“‘Sam’s Town’ was, and will remain, an album striving to epitomise the heart of America.”
Springsteen’s influence drips from every corner of the album – the introduction of that opening title track enough to make the E Street Band proud – and guitars may firmly rule the roost, but The Killers’ take on bombast and storytelling remains incredibly satisfying and even, at times, intimate. ‘When You Were Young’ and ‘Read My Mind’ are massive anthems in their own right, with Brandon Flowers, and that infamous ‘tash of his, a pseudo spirit guide through the sounds and stories of the Midwest. ‘The River Is Wild’ is a commanding rally of a track, while the intriguingly-titled ‘Bling (Confessions Of A King)’ wouldn’t be amiss soundtracking a spaghetti western shoot-out in the depths of the sun-scorched Nevada desert.
Granted, ‘Sam’s Town’ was an album which split critics and fans alike, many finding their transformation too contrived. Yet, ten years on, equipped with the gift of hindsight, it was simply another brilliant chapter in The Killers’ huge career, and yet more proof that they’ve always possessed the knack for striking gold.
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