Day & Age
Three and a half stars
Regardless of sales dipping with each release, The Killers seem to have found a bankably sympathetic ear in the UK (each of the Las Vegas quartet’s albums have gone to number 1 across the pond). Perhaps that’s the reason vocalist Brandon Flowers increasingly finds himself singing with a pseudo-Brit inflection added to that blaring honk of a voice. But oddly enough, this, like the band’s stubborn persistence with the wall-of-sound synth rock treatment of emotionally-challenged power pop is one of the few things they still have going for them. While Day & Age doesn’t have those couple of serendipitously catchy riffs (‘Smile Like You Mean It’ and ‘When You Were Young’) nor the handful of annoyingly hummable choruses (perhaps with the exception of the full-out disco gambol ‘Joyride’) that made at least half of both Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town enjoyable, it is mercifully short, coming in 5 songs and 20 minutes shorter than the previous two. And there’s economy elsewhere too that makes this my sneaky pick of the three. The synths are less fussy and the levels often kept down to let Mr Brightside’s obvious talent for tunefulness (best heard on ‘Losing Touch’ and ‘Human’) and partiality for the vocal styles of Damon Albarn and George Harrison shine through (there’s that Brit slant again). The newfound ease and maturity also allows the band space to tread territory from Belle and Sebastian-like strum-ups (‘I Can’t Stay) to jaded anthems (‘A Dustland Fairytale’) and dark sweeping catharsis (possibly the band’s most brilliant moment ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ almost completely overshadows the melancholic pop beauty ‘The World We Live In’, which precedes it) through horns, harps and, even, chanting. A reasonably restrained effort from a band you didn’t think did that kind of stuff.