The Killers - Day & Age

If you're suspicious of The Killers u-turn back to planet pop, you're not on your own. But at least the cheeky scamps are unapologetic. Careerist musicians? Whatever next! Hell it's called growing up - licking your wounds, knowing your strengths. All the best bands have done it; U2, Manics, New Order, Take That. But don't get too excited girls, Human is the most disco friendly thing here by a mile. The rest is just, well, weird.

Weird is great, but weird isn't enough. You gotta have tunes (and “Faith, a faith-uh”) and Day & Age betrays its relatively speedy conception. First impressions weren't hot, but given time it (partly) overcomes, 'Pheonix'-like. OK, slight exaggeration, more 'Emu'-like.

After Sam's Town it's clear they've checked out of Joshua Tree Inn and jetted back, resplendent in pastels, to dance on the shore with lady Rio. Yes, brace yourself for '80's flashbacks. This is Smash Hits! pantomime pop, lipgloss, cheekbones and Zoolander posing. In other words, daftness is not only back on the menu, it's the Soup de Jour.

Thank God for Human. The fabulicious highlight. I feel the Chris De Burgh comparisons but I defy you not to release a theatrical kick when the drum kicks in at 1:03. They'll be singing this song for the rest of their lives. Accordingly the video is MTV Gold too, particularly the heroically unimpressed big Cat.

Spaceman takes Silver and despite 'homaging' the oh-oh's from One Night Only's tragic For Tonight, it earns its medal. The Daft Rating is off the chart – it's a moving tale of being probed by a wee green man. A fondness for B-Movie trash respects their Vegas origins and its sincerity is as bulletproof as a puppy that's just crapped on the carpet but is So...Damn...Cute! I hear flashes of Roy Orbison's I Drove All Night and it's so euphorically loopy it had me line dancing with E.T. and the Lizards from V.

The handle on the 'Quality Control Machine' is clearly wonky though. Joyride is an '80's valentine too far. Sounding like Butlin's redcoats from 1983 is not good. It's Black Lace and I dare you to listen to it twice. “When the chips are down...Joyride”. Just embarrassing. Now go and stand in the corner.

The World We Live In is beyond bobbins with 'we're all doomed but mustn't-grumble' lyrics. A car crash with no redeeming features, it's like playing Russian Roulette with the Lighthouse Family and Mick Hucknall and hoping you bite the bullet first. Bank managers in novelty ties will love it and invent some sort of finger-wagging dance for the chorus.

A Dustland Fairytale tries to grow some Sam's Town Springsteen stubble but it's all puffed-out Hasslehoff chests and hot air. No doubt they're praying it's the “international enormo-hit”. It won't be. Except maybe in Germany.

Still there's more flash than trash. This Is Your Life wraps Wimbo-weh Lion Sleeps Tonight harmonies around a galloping Black Beauty bassline. It's the-little-boy-that-could and may be 'the' surprise hit, although it could do with a few months down the gym to really make its weight.

I Can't Stay has the band in grass skirts serenading the Girl from Ipanema. A devilish melody, unexpected harp and some perv-Sax swaying over 'Here come de' Lilt Man' steel drums. The sun's goin' down and there's a party on the beach. Agreed it's Grande Fromage and maybe too orangey for Crows but it melted my metal heart faster than a Honolulu baby.

Neon Tiger (Two ace words! One title! = Result!) wrestles Spaceman for King of Comedy. Clawing like a Roger Moore Bond theme it's the beautiful tale of an talented - but troubled - pussy on the run. Its stupendous silliness pukes in the lap of art and I applaud it. “Promise just to pet you, but don't let 'em get you!”. Hey, here's looking at you Kitty, hope you make it.

Punchy opener Losing Touch risks a Level 42 slap-bass insurrection but is so horny you'd swear it was produced by Mark Ronson. Daftest moment? After BF sings “Fill your town with rumours”, voices literally whisper “schwss-schwss”. Whilst windswept Goodnight, Travel Well would've made a perfect closer had it not been chased away by bonus (!) track A Crippling Blow, which at least lives up to its title. For those pining for the darkness of Tranquilize, Goodnight is the closest you'll get.

I'll always admire how Brandon - wth his flowery lyrics (“Are we dancer?”) - is so willing to walk across the critics' firing line. Pop music doesn't have to make sense, surely it just has to sound brilliant? “I got soul but I'm not a solider”? Simultaneously ridiculous and profound. I'm also tipping my hat to the artwork mosaics which make them look like the biggest dorks alive. Respect.

That said, goodwill only goes so far. This is Killers-lite. Another six months in the oven would've worked wonders. It's also apparent that like their idols PSB and Morrissey, The Killers' finest hour will be their singles collection and there's no shame in that. Their love for classic pop is admirable and they're refreshingly theatrical but if you're jonesing for '80's tinted powerpop Ladyhawke is still the winner this year. Day & Age is good, but it needed to be great.

Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 21:26:06

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