The Killers: Sawdust
Offcuts from the Killers - dodgy moustache not pictured.
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Monday, 12, Nov 2007 03:18
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In a nutshell...
Surprising, promising, innovative, patchy, bold
What's it all about?
The album begins with one of the only songs on here that will be released as an EP - Tranquilize. The track features an interesting marriage of the vocals of the Killers' lead singer Brandon Flowers and veteran lyricist Lou Reed (more on that later).
Also included is well-known B-side All the Pretty Faces (from the When You Were Young single).
And cover versions also feature heavily with the band's own take on Kenny Rogers' Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, Joy Division's Shadowplay and the Dire Straits classic Romeo and Juliet.
Leave The Bourbon on The Shelf is here, which will please many of the band's staunch fans, for whom this has become something of an anthem.
The Killers' effort that made it onto the soundtrack from Spider-Man 3, Move Away, is also present, which provides a heavy rock interlude within the covers and softer songs.
Who's it by?
If they weren't a household name when their debut album first hit the charts in 2004, three years on they are one of the biggest names in modern rock music.
The Las Vegas band are understandably billed as "the best British band to come out of America" because of the obvious influences of British music to be found throughout their back catalogue.
Previous releases included the critically acclaimed album Hot Fuss (2004), which contained some of their best-known work so far - Somebody Told Me, Mr Brightside, Smile Like You Mean It and All These Things That I've Done.
Their follow-up LP Sam's Town met with mixed reviews but still spawned four hit singles, including perhaps the most popular of the lot - Bones.
As an example...
"I was just sipping on something sweet/I don't need political process" - Tranquilize
Likelihood of a trip to the Grammys
If you liked Hot Fuss and Sam's Town, you will no doubt enjoy this latest effort - it is a happy compromise between the brighter, early sound of the Killers of four years ago and the Sam's Town era, when things went a little bit leftfield.
There are highlights of both eras here, and even though it is a rarities and B-sides album it should not be written off for awards, in much the same way as The Masterplan by one of the band's major influences, Oasis.
What the others say
"The electro-allusions, chunky riffs and nods to Britrock illustrated in Hot Fuss far outshine the big, empty stabs at grandeur of Sam's Town." - BBC Music
"The cover of Joy Division's Shadowplay should have stayed in the vaults, but it's hard to deny Brandon Flowers' melodic gifts." - Rolling Stone
So is it any good?
I've never been a big fan of B-side albums. They've always seemed a bit lazy, like the band are cashing in with the mainstream using something that should really have been left for those who buy the singles, but this one starts promisingly.
Tranquilize - an original track - marries the impressive vocal talents of Messrs Reed and Flowers and probably shouldn't work, but it really does.
It is like Jack Daniels and Coke - zealous fans of either won't like the dilution by the other but if you have a healthy appreciation of one or both, you're going to like the concoction.
The covers of Shadowplay and Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town are both good, but the version of Romeo and Juliet is where the Killers' ability to make light of an already acclaimed track comes into its own.
It's not better than the original, but it's a decent attempt. This is praise in itself.
Similarly the remixes are not as bad as you might think. It is difficult to top the original version of Mr Brightside and the alternative on here, which has something strangely Ibiza chill-out album about it (apart from the occasional heavy bassline), is not for ardent fans but is good if listened to for its own merits.
The Ballad of Michael Valentine is as good as any song on the album - well-rounded and sure to become a favourite.
While the album as a whole is solid enough, there is little here that faithful Killers followers will be surprised at, mainly because they will have heard most of it before.
However it has it's high points, all of which I have highlighted above. There is precious little here to stir the blood but it will keep fans happy for the time being.
Tantalisingly, too, it keeps us in suspense as to which version of the Killers will appear in their next original release - the happy-go-lucky and original Hot Fuss option, or the refined, over-produced and less accessible version that gave us Sam's Town.
This album won't deter you from sticking with this band, which can only be a good thing. One suspects there is more, and better, still to come.