Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Thousand Eight - 5. The Killers - Day and Age

I love the Killers pretty much as much as any band that exists these days. Yep. Right up there with Future of the Left, the Drones, Max Tundra. And, as you might expect, I pretty vehemently resent the idea that there's no reason to put them in this kind of company. I don't think there's anyway around admitting that the Killers, unfortunately, have the market cornered on melodic pop rock music right now. Just because everyone else in their bracket (with the exception of everyone who unequivocally sucks) is way way past their prime - U2, Green Day, Fall Out Boy - doesn't mean they're irrelevant.

Of course, relevance has nothing to do with it, really. A good pop rock album out to be a good pop rock album and, in fact, is. Day and Age is a great album, as long as you consider albums full of great songs that have nothing to do with each other besides greatness to be great albums.

Something in the appeal that Day and Age and Sam's Town hold almost certainly has something to do with the fact that be very best music in 2008 was not made by musicians with thousands (? tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? how much money does it take to make a polished studio record for a major lable if you're not Axl Rose?) of dollars to spend in the creation of a pop album. There is something to be said for professional, high tech, clean sound, and not just in hip hop or "pop" pop music, by which I guess I mean Kelly Clarkson. Would these songs sound ok if they had used No Age's studio setup to record them? Maybe, but more likely they would sound flat and boring.

Brandon Flowers as a starving indie rock singer is commonplace: a dude with an average but impassioned singing voice and a stupid and flashy sense of style. If I passed the dude on Bedford Ave on a Friday night I'd wish to stomp his face. But context changes everything about the Killers. What would be annoying becomes charming, what's boring becomes exceptional. What would it sound like if you took the boring pop rock music and dumb, disconnected, naively nostalgic stylistic obsessions of the last decade together and threw a bunch of money into trying to turn them into something cohesive? It would sound a lot like Day and Age.

In that last paragraph I used the word stupid and the word dumb. The Killers are both and I love them for it. They have never recorded a stupider song than "Joyride", or a "better" song than "Goodnight, Travel Well", or a more a confused rambling Steinmanesque concoction than "A Dustland Fairytale". So, it's a broad album, yes, but I don't mean to give the impression that this album is good only because of its breadth, because, while depth is certainly not their forte, the Killers get deeper on "Losing Touch" and "Goodnight" than they have on any previous songs.

But a broad album is what this is, primarily. Broad in its appeal as pop music is meant to be, even if it goes largely unrecognized on the charts or the radio. I'm really looking forward to blasting "Spaceman" out the window of my apartment this spring and shouting "Losing Touch" out of a moving car when it gets warm enough to roll down the windows.

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2 Comments:

At Mon Feb 23, 03:46:00 AM, Anonymous Millioniare Maker said...

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At Thu Nov 19, 03:13:00 PM, OpenID travelfish said...

Great review! Thanks for writing it. I agree, The Killers, though they are pretty popular right now, are one of the few bands that are popular for a reason... they're actually good!

 

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