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Still a hot fuss: The Killers beat the odds
Seattle Times music critic
A sophomore slump for the Killers?
Don't bet on it.
The glitzy, glam-influenced Las Vegas band's second album, "Sam's Town," named after their favorite casino, is like a royal flush in poker or a 21 in blackjack — in other words, it's a winner.
Following a hit debut album with a second hit can be elusive, so much so that the recording industry has long had a term for it — the sophomore slump. As Billboard put it, "The history of rock is littered with tales of bands that blew up big only to fizzle out."
The Killers certainly blew up big with their first CD, "Hot Fuss," which has sold more than 5 million copies and was nominated for five Grammys. The band toured like mad to promote it, honing their performance skills in the process.
The Killers' concert history in Seattle alone shows how hard they've worked and how quickly their drawing power has grown. They played Seattle six times in the past two years, at Neumos, the Crocodile Cafe, Bumbershoot, Deck the Hall Ball, the Moore Theatre and finally, last October, at KeyArena. They play the Paramount Thursday night.
Like "Hot Fuss," "Sam's Town" is a rock album with rhythms aimed at the dance floor. But it's much more ambitious and more varied. Some songs have big, orchestral arrangements, and there's even a theme that connects the beginning and end (called "enterlude" and "exitlude"). There are enough irresistible dance beats and captivating lyrics to keep the CD high on the charts for a long time — maybe more than "Hot Fuss," which stayed in the Top 50 album chart in Billboard for 53 weeks.
If you saw the Killers in the closing performance slot on the "MTV Video Music Awards" in August or play two songs on last week's season-opener of "Saturday Night Live," you know that the dandy (in every sense of the word) of a lead singer, Brandon Flowers, is more fey and flamboyant than ever. He may not be gay (he's married) but he plays one onstage, right down to the mascara, lipstick and glittery blush on his cheeks. His heroes are Elton John, David Bowie and Queen's Freddie Mercury, and their influence is all over him (including his fake British accent).
He dresses like a GQ model heavy into glam, and the rest of the band are dandies, too. Along with the dance-floor rhythms, the band's sartorial splendor sets it apart from most contemporary rock bands.
"When You Were Young," the first single from the new CD, is a dramatic, synth-driven song about "a beautiful boy" savior. Like several other pop hits these days, it name-checks Jesus, which always pricks up the ears and invites controversy, both of which help sell records.
"Bones," the other song they did on "SNL," and also set to be released as a single, has, like most of the new CD's songs, a nongender-specific lyric. It's a teasing, sexy song about "feeling my bones on your bones" and "my flesh on your flesh." The song insists that "it's only natural."
Their past shows here all turned into dance-mad parties that were loads of fun. The same thing is sure to happen Thursday night at the Paramount.
Another sure thing: The Killers will never play a Seattle venue as small as the Paramount again. We're lucky to be one of few cities on their short theater tour that's designed to be a dress rehearsal for arena and stadium shows later this year and through much of next year.
Look for them to headline the Gorge next summer. The Killers have nowhere to go but up.
Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company