Well somebody told me/You had a boyfriend/Who looked like a girlfriend/That I had in February of last year
I looked at the radio incredulously. It was the fourth song on the mystery album that my friend Lindsay was showing me. The band was British—or at least they had British accents—and sounded like they could have gone on tour with The Talking Heads or The Smiths. They were flashy and fabulous, everything that an 80′s pop band should have been. I caved and asked for the CD. Lindsay smiled knowingly and handed me a hardcopy of Hot Fuss, The Killers’ debut album. Five years later, The Killers is one of the most popular bands around the world, and Hot Fuss is kept close. However, I only listen to the first half of the CD; it’s the only part of the album worth listening to.
It turns out that Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers, is not British but in fact from Las Vegas. He brings the glamour of the city to his work, and it works well for the beginning of the CD. Take “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine,” the opening track. The bass curves a repetitive and catchy hook around the entire tune, the drums clash heavily, the synths have a simple but memorable solo, and Brandon Flowers, the man who makes this band, chants strange lyrics and ends his piece with a scream “ooh, oh, ooooooh.” It’s fun, and this is the case for the following tracks.
“Mr. Brightside” has a beautiful intro: first the guitar enters innocently, then a quick drum beat, then Flowers, bass, synths. The result? A high paced rock song. “Mr. Brightside” is the best known song by The Killers and a gem from Hot Fuss. The following two songs, “Smile Like You Mean It” and personal favorite “Somebody Told Me” are equally well written.
Then “All These Things That I’ve Done” happens. This track stands on its own; it’s beautiful, ending with a whole chorus crescendoing into a belted “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” Fantastic.
And that’s where Hot Fuss loses steam. The following tracks are largely unmemorable. They have no bite. In “Change Your Mind” and “Believe Me Natalie,” you find all of The Killers’ sound, but a lack of structure. Then there’s “Everything Will Be Alright.” If I have to listen to this song again I will not be all right. It’s slow, boring, and reminds me of drowning.
Hot Fuss gets it half right. The quality music that it produces is fantastic, and the near misses will hopefully be remedied in their sophomore album.
Recommended Songs: All These Things That I’ve Done, Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, Somebody Told Me
Toss These Songs: Everything Will Be Alright, Change Your Mind