‘Sam’s Town’ is The Killers’ follow-up to 2004’s ‘Hot Fuss.’ That latter album was quite the monster throughout the world with rich production values – showing enormous vision and competency on the part of the band and its production team – that clearly showed how deeply The Killers were in thrall to British influences as diverse as The Fall, U2, and Oasis. But, had ‘Hot Fuss’ been nothing more than an imitative and/or derivative paean to Britpop, it would likely have died like an unwanted hooker on the streets of Las Vegas. But, the music – while familiar – was part of an atmospheric aural vehicle that carried dense, thoughtful narratives about relationships and their demands and responsibilities.
The explosive success of ‘Hit Fuss’ resulted in The Killers becoming a world-wide phenomenon that was heavy rotation on both sides of the pond. Among the events the band had as campaign streamers were Glastonbury, Live 8, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Show with David Letterman, Top of the Pops as well as a host of edgier shows; quite a step ahead for a band that was formed in 2002.
Along the way the band has gained some notoriety for what might be referred to as rock star bravado. Between claims that the follow-up album would be "one of the best albums in the past twenty years," to critical, caustic comments about other bands, some have wondered 1) is the band full of themselves and 2) can they deliver an equally strong second offering.
I’m here to say that the answers to these questions are “Yes,” and “possibly no.” While ‘Sam’s Town’ does contain some strong insightful observations on life, music and the cost of stepping out on the notional global stage, when one views the CD as a whole, it is less consistent in song quality. There is also a decided shift in some of the underlying foundations from which this band draws its inspiration.
Where ‘Hot Fuss’ was the band’s view of Britpop, “Sam’s Town’ has a strong element of American influence. This is most obvious in “When You Were Young,” and “This River is Wild;” both hark to the wall-of-sound thunder of ‘Born to Run.’ There are also nods to Bon Jovi in “Uncle Jonny,” which – while coming down against cocaine – takes a somewhat sympathetic view of the abuser. After several listens, I had to conclude that the band was talking about someone they know.
The overall album is a bit of a concept product, too. The title song addresses the issue of success, with its chorus “You know I see London, I see Sam's Town/holds/pulls my hand and lets my hair down/Rolls the world right off my shoulder/I see London, I see Sam's Town couplet “I’ve seen London,” a retrospective view of what success entails.
The next nine songs are contained within a song cycle structure that starts and finishes with “Enterlude” and “Exitlude,” respectively. They set the stage – in tone and content quite similar to the works of Ray Davies – for the aforementioned nine songs that follow the band’s penchant for analytical study about relationships. However, whereas ‘Hot Fuss’ was about interpersonal relationships, “Sam’s Town’ addresses the more problematic issue of being in rock ‘n’ roll. This is not to say that you will be listening to a concept album. The songs are not linked in that manner. (So, it is not Endless Wire/Wire and Glass!). But, you are aware that Flowers et al have been doing some thinking about whom and what they are. The problem I’m faced with is that the issue remains unresolved as to whether the bRead full review