The Killers Sam's Town

They "started” a new wave revival and finger-pointed to "copyists,” issued death threats to emo bands, and most recently declared their sophomore album the best album of the last two decades without any kind of backlash; in many ways the Killers are fucking untouchable. What’s most surprising, though, is how a great band can do whatever they want without actually releasing a strong album. Hot Fuss, their debut, may have seduced 4 million customers, but the cold hard truth is it was a flawed album carried by strong singles. Funny enough, Sam’s Town is basically the same picture: strong anthems lost in a sea of superficial filler — but without that flashy pink leather blazer. Instead, the Killers have traded in their glam and Duran Duran fixation for some four-day stubble and a Springsteen box set; it’s painfully obvious they felt the ’80s bandwagon was headed for a cliff and reinvention was mandatory. Ace single "When You Were Young” is simply "Mr. Brightside” aping "Born to Run,” while "The River Is Wild” tries to build a story Boss-style using rugged enunciation and lines like, "This town was meant for passing through/But it ain’t nothing new.” It’s blatant, but then so is the Brandon Flowers’ Meatloaf obsession, which explodes when the drama becomes too much. Their best — the warm synthetic "Read My Mind” and the uplifting but poorly named "Bling (Confessions of a King)” — meets their worst — the lyrically dreadful "Uncle Johnny” and the goofy Queen-isms of "Bones, and it’s a constant battle that never ends with satisfaction. Essentially, this is sure to keep their popularity, but if they’re hoping for the legacy they feel they deserve it’s going to take a lot more work and a lot less talk. (Island)