“Are we human, or are we dancer?” That is the question.
When Brandon Flowers sat down to write lyrics to The Killers’ third studio album, Day & Age, he never could’ve imagined the heated discussion that would arise over grammar, of all things.
After receiving mediocre reviews for Sam’s Town – the U2/Springsteen fusion follow-up to post-punk Hot Fuss – the band continued to experiment while on a worldwide tour.
Two years later, Flowers brilliantly depicts paranoia and isolation in contemporary society.
Dubbed the greatest British band from America, The Killers open the album with “Losing Touch,” a song rich with blaring trumpets. “Joy Ride” and “I Can’t Stay” mix an island vibe with bass-heavy nightlife, steel drums and a saxophone solo.
Many feared that Stuart Price, who produced Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, would greatly turn the band towards a dance-oriented sound as heard on their first single, “Human.”
All the hoopla over what Flowers sings in the song lies in a Hunter S. Thompson quote, which critiques today’s American generation as a bunch of “dancers.”
“Spaceman” brings the band’s Hot Fuss roots back on a poppy track with Flowers’s signature synthesizer.
“Neon Tiger” sparkles with its staccato guitar, synth line and lyrics like “Run neon tiger/there’s a lot on your mind/they promised just to pet you/don’t you let them get you.”
Mark Stoermer’s bass and Dave Keuning’s guitar riffs lead “This is Your Life,” another declaration of present-day life seemingly influenced by Elton John’s songs from The Lion King.
“A Dustland Fairytale” resembles the arena rock from their sophomore effort, but shines with harpsichord, piano and string arrangements.
With a condensed album only 10 songs long, there aren’t any throwaways or should-be b-sides.
Instead of ending on an upbeat note like the rest of the ’80s pop-inspired tracks, “Good Night, Travel Well” closes on a somber note. The almost 7 minute tribute to impending death and family is like “Why Do I Keep Counting?” version 2.0.
After a little more than 41 minutes, The Killers pose more questions than answers.
By experimenting and evolving as musicians, Flowers and company refused to play it safe with old material and shrugged off any talk of acting like dancers.
3.5 out of 4 stars