The Killers Were The Soundtrack Of My 20’s

The Killers have a new album out titled “Wonderful Wonderful”, and it’s pretty good.

The title track has a nice riff that sounds a lot like Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. “The Man” has an okay rock-funk rhythm to it. While
“Rut” and “Life To Come” both have an inspiring sentimentality. All-in-all, I reccommned giving it a listen and maybe adding a few tracks to your Spotify or Amazon Music playlist.

But this article isn’t really about The Killers’ new album. It’s not even really about their old albums. It’s about the way I experienced those albums.

I was 25 years old in 2004.

I’d gone to college in NYC from 1997-2001, moved home for about a year-and-a-half to save money, and then moved back to the city (well, Astoria, but that’s basically just the upper-upper east side) in 2003.

It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but I probably did most of my growing up in college and shortly thereafter. I was a bit of a late bloomer and a hardcore non-comformist in high school, who refused to even try listening to some bands that were pretty widely accepted as good.

For example, I spent the first 18 years of my life in New Jersey, but I only had a passing knowledge of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. I thought Tom Petty & The Hearbreakers were pretty decent, but never really owned one of their albums. And I gave the stiff-arm to Billy Joel and The Dave Mathews Band since all the “Cool kids” were into them. I could say similar things about 90’s Alt-Rock acts like the Gin Blossoms and Counting Crows.

Needless to say, I got super into all those bands when I got to college. It even took me that long to discover that The Cure had a lot more good songs than the two they always played on the radio at the time. There were, of course, new acts that caught me attention at this time. Emo-Rock acts like Jimmy Eat World and Pete Yorn hit me right in the soft spot. They never received the same mainstream acclaim as The White Strips or The Strokes, since Garage Rock had made a massive comeback, but I related to them more.

It was out of this feedback-driven soundscape that The Killer arrived with their debut album “Hot Fuss” – the sort of glossed up rock-pop act that sounded as if Springsteen and the Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen had a love child. With my newly-discovered affection for the E-Streeters, and my long-time apppreciation for Van Hagar (a stance I will defend with the David Lee Roth acolytes all day) “Hot Fuss” hit a bullseye in my groove center.

Nearly every song found its way into my personal rotation. Sure, the hit singles “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” were there. But so was the two-part interrogation/confessional track “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine” and “Midnight Show”. “Smile Like You Mean It”  and “Change Your Mind” both offered sardoncally good advise for a tweny-something making his way through the concrete jungle.  And anytime any of these songs got queued up at 2 AM in the pub (we didn’t really do clubs) my friends and I would happily (and drunkenly) sing along and bounce up and down in what I suppose we considered dancing.

“Sam’s Town” was released in 2006, while radio stations and bars were still playing the hits from “Hot Fuss”. The driving lead guitar on “When You Were Young” always managed to pep me up, even if – at 27 – I wasn’t quite old enough to appreciate the lyrics. “Read My Mind” was a synth-heavy power ballad that reminded me of my own transition from suburbanite to Manhattanite. Outside of those two songs, though, there wasn’t a lot to catch my interest.

2007’s “Sawdust” and 2008’s “Day & Age” both came and went while I was otherwise occupied. Sam could be said for frontman Brandon Flowers’ first solos album “Flamingo”. “Battle Born”, from 2012, had my favorite Killers song since their first album: “Runaways”. That track went all-in on the Springsteen trimmings, and I was happy to catch up on the albums I’d missed. As much I did – and still do – blast “Runaways” in my car, it was just one song and not a whole album full of treats.

I only gave a listen to Flowers’ second solo album, “The Desired Effect”, one day when I was felling nostalgic in 2015. I’m glad I did though, because that one was loaded with the best stuff I’d heard from The Killers’ corner in a long time.

“Dreams Come True” is a morale booster. “Can’t Deny My Love” is a funk-inflected jam. “Between Me And You” hit upon some of the same stresses that I’d been struggling with for a while before I’d managed to put them to bed. And “Lonely Town” referenced the Gravitron by name, so that brought back happy memories of 12 year-old me running through the Kiwanis Carnival that came to town every September flooding back. Seriously, if you haven’t checked this one out, I suggest you queue it up immediately.

My wife and I left Astoria in 2012 and moved into a wonderful house in the burbs. Two years ago our son arrived, and he’s also wonderful. Which brings us back to the new Killers album “Wonderful Wonderful” which, again, is pretty good. If “Hot Fuss” and everything that came out after it helped soundtrack your life, then you should give the new stuff a listen. I might take a deeper dive into my musical tastes at some point, though it’s a pretty deep pool. Until then, I’ll just keep playing the hits.

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