Alternative Rock, 2004
Now I understand why purist fans of the Beatles were howling for the blood of Oasis when Oasis actually mattered. The Killers is yet another pretty boy group that plumbs the music of the pop-rock era of the 1970s to the 1980s, from the melodramatic influences of the New Romantics groups to the broody pathos of The Cure and Depeche Mode. While it makes a pleasant change from the whiny music of the increasingly obsolete “alternative” groups like Good Charlotte, music by groups like The Killers rarely display anything that I haven’t heard before.
While Franz Ferdinand, for example, manages to infuse their spectacularly unoriginal music with their brand of charisma and quirkiness, Brandon Flowers and his chums in The Killers follow too faithfully the groups they plunder freely from. At their best, they sound like tribute bands to the originals. I really love Change Your Mind and I wish Robert Smith is singing it instead of Mr Flowers’s watered down attempts to sound like Mr Smith. I enjoy On Top and I wish Ben Orr is still alive to show Mr Flowers a thing or two about doing things right. I adore Mr. Brightside and I think even Damon Albarn of Blur can kick Mr Flowers’ ass if Mr Albarn tackled this song instead.
Thanks to The Strokes, White Stripes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs getting ridiculously lavish accolades, bands like The Killers are getting to show the world their thing when in other circumstances they would be playing at weddings of Robert Smith impersonators. While I must say that I prefer this kind of happy, sunny, poppy pop-rock sounds to the melancholic dreariness of Radiohead, for example, I wish The Killers have offered something of their own – a sound, a quirk, a distinguishing vocal style, for example – instead of merely imitating better bands that have come and gone in the past. Hot Fuss is a pleasant CD to fingerpaint a portrait of Robert Smith to.