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Day & Age
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About the Artist
Together with bassist Mark Stoermer, guitarist Dave Keuning, and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Flowers helped to mold the album into 10 songs that work best together as a whole, each individually describing an evolution of the Las Vegas band's sound. "We're always pushing ourselves," says Stoermer, "and there's a lot of diversity here--from anthemic rock to dance songs." Flowers adds: "We felt like Sam's Town was a continuation of Hot Fuss, and we feel like this is a continuation of Sam's Town. But at the same time, Day and Age is totally different from both of them, while still sounding like us. It's kind of looking at Sam's Town from Mars."
Those familiar with the band's oeuvre will recognize their signature in the synth-heavy "Human," four minutes of sweeping, epic rock, on which Flowers sings: "My sign is vital/ My hands are cold/ And I'm on knees, looking for the answer/ Are we human, or are we dancer?" He says the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers. But the song also had some help from album producer Stuart Price (aka Jacques LuCont), known for his work with Madonna and Missy Elliot, and who'd previously remixed "Mr. Brightside." "He was the icing on the cake," says Stoermer.
"We had just put 'Human' together, and we wound up shooting over to his house after dinner [in London]," Flowers recalls of his first time in the studio with Price. "A few hours later, we had something very close to what you hear now. I was on cloud nine." He continues: "When we walked into his flat, the first thing I saw was picture of the cover of The Man Who Sold the World, and further down the stairs there was a picture of Eno in his Roxy Music days. I just kind of felt that we'd found our man."
That he'd find comfort in the signifiers of those artists shouldn't come as a surprise: The band's made no secret of their admiration for both art-rock and stadium giants (collaborating with the likes of Lou Reed, who guested on "Tranquilize," a single from Sawdust, 2007's collection of B-sides, rarities, and new songs). Formed in Las Vegas in 2002, the band belongs to the lineage of high-energy rock bands that manage to be both commercially successful and critically acclaimed (both of their studio albums have received endless column inches bursting with praise), and it's almost mind-blowing to consider that without the classifieds section of a local paper, they might have never been.
Flowers first met guitarist Keuning while perusing said classifieds for fellow musicians; when Dave's ad mentioned The Beatles, Oasis and more, Flowers knew he was on the right track. They claimed the name The Killers (taken from the bass drum of a fictional band in a New Order video), and eventually recruited Stoermer and Vannucci into the fold, all of them agreeing that there seemed to be an intangible something to the music they were making, as well as the response they were generating from people who saw them play. And as these performances became bigger and bigger, and praise for the band began to spread rapidly, A&R men came from the UK and the US to see them, eventually leading them to sign with Island Records in America. Their debut, Hot Fuss, catapulted them onto the global stage upon its 2004 release, selling millions of copies around the world. The band toured for two years straight behind Hot Fuss, playing more than four-hundred shows, and eventually returned to Vegas to begin to work on the follow-up album with legendary producers Alan Moulder and Flood. The result, a love letter of sorts to their hometown entitled Sam's Town, was released in 2006 and spent forty-two weeks on the Billboard Top 200. In between all of this, the band managed to fit in two appearances on Saturday Night live, in addition to performances on The Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman and more. One might think this would produce a generous amount of pressure as the band began to work on their newest collection of songs, but this was not the case. "We're confident together, comfortable with the way we work as a live band," Stoermer says. "So when we were writing this record, there was less anxiety, not that we're resting on our laurels."
This comfort in their work together is apparent on Day & Age. The album sees The Killers experimenting with different instruments: "I Can't Stay" has a tropical sound--thank the saxophone and steel drums--and, as the singer says, "could be the most perfect pop song we've ever written." "Losing Touch," meanwhile, is a gorgeous uptempo track with bright horns and grim lyrics ("impending doom, it must be true/ I'm losing touch") that lend it an ominous vibe. "Spaceman," an unabashedly arena-sized glam-rock number whose associative lyrics reference, among other themes, alien abduction. ("We've been playing it between 'Read My Mind' and 'Mr. Brightside,' and it feels like it's been there forever," Flowers says.) More than anything, The Killers are excited for their fans to hear what they've been creating, though, says Stoermer, "We're always a little nervous about whether people are going to like it."
The people have in the past. Besides the sales figures--including moving 4.4 million units of Sam's Town abroad--the band has received seven nods from the Grammys, and won a variety of MTV, BRIT, and NME awards. They've headlined some of the biggest festivals in the UK and Europe, including Glastonbury, the Reading and Leeds Festival and Pukkelpop, and have sold out prestigious venues such as Madison Square Garden in America. The attention has, at times, made it difficult for them to keep their composure, but this time out the band is trying to remain more level-headed.
"We got thrown up to the position very quickly that we're in now --the test is to retain it," says Flowers. "I want us to be a positive force. People think that we're overconfident and cocky, but it comes from excitement. It's not 'I'm better than you,' it's that I can't wait till you hear this song because I know what it does to me physically. I'm able to listen to our songs and not think 'this is us playing,' I'm able to allow the music to affect me and I know if it's good or not. Sometimes people think I'm running my mouth, when I'm truly excited."
Top Customer Reviews
It's safe to say I had huge expectations from Day & Age. Most of the tracks met them, but a few were genuine disappointments.
I was ready to accept a new style and sound from the Killers in Day & Age, based on their transformation from Hot Fuss to Sam's Town, as well as their live performance of "Human," on Saturday Night Live in the fall of 2008. Based on Human, I was expecting an album with more synth-pop influence and maybe even an electronic vibe.
While there is a significant synth feel to some of the tracks, The Killers have thrown in dance beats, some reggae influence, and even a synthetic harpsichord (This Is Your Life) into the album. It is a mash-up of musical styles that at times feels too much like a collage of influences instead of a finished album, but on my third listen I think they actually did pretty well over all. If you want a seamless album that traverses from song to song effortlessly, Day and Age will disappoint you. If you want a strange, intelligent, and always entertaining collection of songs that defy classification to a specific genre, this is a great choice.
"Human," is my favorite track, a song which I initially wrote off as having silly lyrics, until I read this quote from Flowers: "It's taken from a quote by [author Hunter S.] Thompson. 'We're raising a generation of dancers,' and I took it and ran.Read more ›
I can't think of another contemporary band who is able to do what these guys do so well. Each song is unique, the music is arresting, the lyrics are engaging, and the songs are flat out well done.
My album has been on repeat throughout the weekend. I'm officially down with the Killers.
Losing Touch: Here we have the Killers' grandest album-opener by far. No disrespect to "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" or "Sam's Town"; those tracks are great in their own ways. But "Losing Touch" has glimmer and funk to it which preview what is to come on the album. The song's lyrics are more than likely a response to critics who disowned the band after their sophomore album Sam's Town failed to satisfy them. Brandon Flowers tells them to "run and tell their friends I'm losing touch." After Flowers was accused of selling his soul "like a Roman vagabond," he "made [his] way back home" with this album.
Side note: While Sam's Town was poorly received by critics, I still say it's one of the best albums of the past 20 years.
Human: The first single from Day & Age is a dreamy dance-pop tune that never fails to make tears fall and my feet tap. The chorus' infamous line "Are we human or are we dancer?" is a paraphrase of Hunter S. Thompson and has stumped listeners and critics alike. My interpretation of the song this: Flowers sees people today as those who have lost all human emotion, said "so long to devotion," and has forsaken grace, virtue, good, soul, and romance. It is a heartbreaking sentiment put into beautiful words.
Spaceman: It only makes sense the second single would be a goofy Bowie-esque anthem about alien abduction. After such a thought-provoking song like "Human," what would be better than an extremely catchy rocker that doesn't have any deep, hidden meaning (or does it?). This simply is an account of being probed by aliens and then being convinced that "it's all in my mind.Read more ›
I NEVER expected to love this album as much as I do. There is little, if anything, that I can think of that is wrong with this album. To be honest, I liked them before, but not enough to go out and buy one of their albums. This one I bought on a whim because I sort of dug "Human"... oh man, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
As far as Brandon's vocals/lyrics go, his range has impressed me with this outing to a level that few have before... from the Queen-esque "A Dustland Fairytale" to The Cure-level epic stylings featured in "The World We Live In", every track has its own signature catch to it that continues to draw me in during what is probably my 150th full listen to within the last week (seriously, this album has taken over fully).
To all of you non-believers in band redemption from one great album, to a wasteful b-side album, and a triumphant return back to greatness, in my opinion... this will be your greatest example if you're looking to believe again.
I LOVE THE KILLERS!! Woo... I mean, come on! Why can't I be as slick as these folks?!
Enjoy it, everyone!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wish they had called them selves something else but I do love this band! and I have very eclectic tastes.Published 4 months ago by rjd
Love all their albums. Wish had a better name for the group.Published 8 months ago by artist forever
I love the cover art of this and the design of their name. This day and age, few artists have stuck to their roots. Read morePublished 9 months ago by francis roebuck