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The Killers - Hot Fuss Print E-mail
Tuesday, 15 June 2004

The Killers

Hot Fuss
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Island
release year: 2004
performance: 8
sound 7
reviewed by: Charles Andrews

Image The Killers, great name, can they back it up? Seems like I read something ... promising, about them. Okay, follow instinct, take it for a spin, see what rolls by deadline time.
Sometimes you just get lucky. In a couple of weeks, this has gone from below my radar to can’t-escape-it. They’re all over the airwaves, three Grammy nominations, top-billed band for L.A.’s Giant Village NYE 2005 street party. Why, they’re already famous in Vegas!

Just kidding. They’re from Vegas. Maybe that makes them the first band that got tough and really good from rehearsing in garages in 130 degrees, instead of melting into nothingness.

The Killers are tough. And Hot Fuss is one of the best debut albums I’ve
heard since....Franz Ferdinand? No, that was just last month -- that’s not fair. They’re both two of the best freshman efforts in years.

The similarities between the Scots and the Vegans are that both albums are packed with really good songs, with tons o’ memorable hooks and choruses, half a dozen potential singles -- Hit Singles! -- sticking out of each like red throbbing hammer-hit thumbs.

A couple months ago, our estimable publisher posited: “Missing for 12 Years -- the Perfect Album.” I agree with his notion, but how interesting that in six months, we now have two albums, from opposite ends of the globe, that each almost dash the theory. Almost. I guess close does only count in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Both groups deliver great (but not perfect) albums, not defining a genre/generation, but these are discs I’m listening to a lot and finding familiarity breeding appreciation rather than contempt. That’s the true test of a great album: how does it sound the 30th time around? Because, really, are you dropping 15 bucks for something you’ll play and love only five or six times?
“Somebody Told Me” is, well, is just killer. No one can resist the perfect structure, the swirling synths marched into bashing drums, urgent vocal delivery ... and then you get to the best part, the chorus that names the song, and there ain’t a body in the car who’s not singing along and waving their head stupidly back and forth.

The album kicks off deceptively with a landing helicopter but quickly hits you with The Killers’ trademark wall of guitars/keyboards, driving drums and often crucial bass lines. Mostly compelling lyrics are usually sung with feeling, but a certain limited vocal range/dynamics is one of their weak points. Like Franz Ferdinand, The Killers turn a lot of really interesting flips within songs, taking inspired left turns and bringing up an instrument just when it’s needed.

But that wall of sound they’re in love with is pretty amorphously dense and frankly muddy. I’m sure that’s what they want, and the vocals do rise intelligibly above the mess, but it gives them a much more restricted palette than the FF boys.

The Killers’ rockers are sing-along jet engine blasts, and when they slow it down, they do it without losing either energy or your interest, a tricky feat for this kind of no-compromise band. But just when you're wondering if this isn't that Perfect 10, you realize it just falls apart at the end. The last three cuts just don't cut it, even after lots of discerning listening. Especially the final number, perhaps self-reassuringly titled "Everything Will Be Alright."

It probably will be. Eight-for-11 is a slugging percentage even Barry
"Skin Creme" Bonds would envy. This collection is a Hot Fuss, and these
are definitely The Killers.

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