Track by Track guide to Sam's Town

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NME August 19,2006 issue

It's three months late because frontman Brandon Flowers didn't have the lyrics done,but with extra sessions in London and a little help from their new favourite influence Bruce Springsteen,The Killers second album is finally finished.Named after a casino that Flowers used to live opposite,here's our first listen to Sam's Town

Sam’s Town:
The opener feels like a prologue for the album. Over swirling strings they reveal the hometown blues that fuel this LP’s restless spirit. “Nobody had a dream round here and I don’t really mind/ and it’s starting to get to me”, belts out Flowers, before the brakes are applied and Sam’s Town twists into a carnival waltz- the circus has arrived.

Enterlude:
Now the scene has been set, we get a brief curtain raiser. Accompanying himself on piano, Flowers delivers a knowingly cheesy hotel welcome: “We hope you enjoy your stay/ it’s good to have you with us even if it’s just for the day/Outside the sun is shining/ it feels like heaven isn’t far away”.

WYWY:
Then we’re into the thick of it. The comeback single bursts into life, racing down the neon lit drag and out into the dusty desert night. Powered by its pulsating bass, the song dives into the American skyline, with tales of highways, hurricanes, mountains and a distraught heroine praying for forgiveness.

Bling (Confessions of a King):
It opens with operatic vocals and bursts of military snare drum, contrasting with the previous track’s cool sophistication. This song lays itself bare in the burning, midday sun, as Flowers takes us on a trek through a sandy wilderness. “Higher and higher/we’re going to take it down to the wire/we’re going to make it", he promises, as the track concludes its vision of Americana with an honest, acoustic guitar.

For Reasons Unknown:
Twitching into life with buzzing guitars, this is a driving song, built for long roads and imposing landscapes. Musically, it’s the closest thing to Hot Fuss, boasting The Killers’ trademark pop charm. “My heart it doesn’t beat the way it used to, my eyes don’t see you no more”, runs the chorus, before Flowers adds with extra vigour, “Any my lips, my lips don’t kiss the way they used to and my eyes don’t recognise you no more/for reasons unknown”.

Read My Mind:
Opening with hymn like keyboards, this finds The Killers at their most soulful. “I don’t mind, you don’t mind/cause I don’t shine, you don’t shine/before you go can you read my mind?” sings Flowers with raw emotion, as Read My Mind’s reflective feel finds The Killers at their most engaging.

Uncle Jonny:
Starting with a lone, squalling guitar which provides the song’s spiky backbone, it’s clear The Killers were taking stadium rock notes when they supported U2 last year. However, replacing the hanger sized pomposity is humour. “When everyone else refrained/ my uncle Jonny did cocaine” deadpans Flowers, “he’s convinced himself within his brain/that it helps him take away the pain”. You can imagine him grinning.

Bones:
What The Killers do best: a twisted, creepy love song wrapped up in a warm pop heart. Bones feels like a successor to Mr. Brightside with its racing synths and tales of backseat car rides, beach parties and rejected advances. “Don’t you want to come with me, don’t you want to feel my bones/ I want your bones/it’s only natural” declares Flowers, revealing a menace beneath the shiny surface.

My List:
Pounding with heartbeat drums, My List is the most Springsteen indebted track here. “Your heart is not able, let me show you how much I care”, sings Flowers while Keuning’s guitars take us into ‘Born to Run’ territory.

This River is Wild:
Opening like a spaghetti western- only played on sci-fi keyboards- we’re quickly burning across the desert highway again, revisiting the opener’s themes. “This town was meant for passing through” he sings.

Why Do I Keep Counting?
After Attid, no Killers album is complete without the anthem and Sam’s Town’s closer obliges. Opening with a whisper, Ronnie Vannucci’s relentless drumming helps it grow into a monster. “If I only knew the answer/and if our days are numbered/why do I keep counting?” wonders Flowers before it smashes to a close with a gonzo gong.

Exitlude:We’re left with a merry outro. Reprising Enterlude’s lyrics a chorus of voices cheerily combine over a track curiously reminiscent of the Cheers TV theme tune.

 

 

 

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