Track by Track guide to Sam's Town
NME August 19,2006
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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
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.