Brandon Flowers's grand proclamations about his band's brilliance in advance of the Killers' sophomore release, "Sam's Town," probably contributed to the unfair maligning of that imperfect-but-lively 2006 album from the Las Vegas rockers. Although he could've crowed even louder about the new "Day & Age," this time the frontman wisely kept his visions of self-satisfaction private.
The quartet essentially distills what was enjoyable about its first two records - and shockingly good 2007 B-sides album - into a variety-pack release of soaring anthems, fluffy dance rockers, and straight-up disco confections.
Residue from the Bruce Springsteen fixation remains in "A Dustland Fairytale," which begins in intimate close-up before switching to wide-angle chest-thumping. It's one of those tunes where you might not be sure what Flowers is going on about as he sings "saw Cinderella in a party dress, but she was looking for a nightgown/ I saw the devil wrapping up his hands, he's getting ready for the showdown." But it's easy to get caught up in the spirit of the moment thanks to the sweep and scope of the arrangements, which are packed with urgent strings, surging piano, and a propulsive backbeat.
Bassist Mark Stoermer is a particularly strong driver on the material meant to arouse the hips, giving the Caribbean-tinged "I Can't Stay" a grounding in funk and unabashedly channeling Studio 54-era grooves for "Joy Ride." The '80s influences also remain, including traces of Depeche Mode and Duran Duran in keening synth-pop tracks like "Losing Touch" and "The World We Live In."
While Flowers occasionally strains to be taken seriously as an artiste, he never gets too ponderous. And along with his bandmates and producer Stuart Price, Flowers makes sure that "Day & Age" rarely veers from the not insignificant mission of making a record that simply sounds good. (Out today)
ESSENTIAL "A Dustland Fairytale"