HOT FUSS by the killers

by Gordon

Pitchfork: 7.3          Rolling Stone: 3.5/5          Metacritic: 71          Spin: N/A


Released: June 2004
  1. Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
  2. Mr. Brightside
  3. Smile Like You Mean It [LISTEN]

  4. Somebody Told Me
  5. All These Things That I’ve Done
  6. Andy, You’re A Star
  7. On Top
  8. Change Your Mind
  9. Believe Me Natalie
  10. Midnight Show
  11. Everything Will Be Alright

   The Killers will always stand out in my mind as the band I so strongly changed my opinion to following the initial aversion I had upon my first listen back in 2004 when I was just a freshman in college. The song was probably “Somebody Told Me” and though in that dorm room my friend tried to convince me that they were the new and hip sound (something that seemed apparent to me whether I chose to agree or not), it was too chaotic, too cheap, too arrogant and too new for my taste. But avoiding Hot Fuss that summer would have been near impossible, with songs jamming up radio stations, TV shows, and CD players. And in the end The Killers prevailed and the music won…big time.

   Most fans would agree that the first half of Hot Fuss is considerably better and more memorable, more The Killers, than the second half, and what starts out the five-song run is “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine”, opening with raging guitar from Dave Keuning, a catchy beat from drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr., a mean bassline by Mark Stoermer, and finally the half-talking, half-yelling, all-confident frontman Brandon Flowers. Song structure-wise, they’re not writing anything new for the books. But it’s the rock anthem energy and part corny 80s, part badass dance-y synth solos from Flowers that separate the band from others like The Strokes that some critics had initially criticized them for copying, and it’s all evident in this opening track.

   And of course everyone knows the now old news but still catchy as ever “Mr. Brightside”, the fast-paced, guitar-heavy frustrated love ballad that thrives off of the never-ceasing but never annoying lead riff from Keuning. “Now they’re going to bed/ And my stomach is sick/ And it’s all in my head/ But she’s touching his chest now/ He takes off her dress now/ Let me go.” We love the visual imagery enough to have no problem with the second verse being nothing but a repeat of the first.

   “Smile Like You Mean It” is my personal favorite, same Killers sound so far but somehow still unique enough in its own memorable synthesizers and style, the chorus harmonies just perceptible but just right. The attitude from Flowers still makes me wonder if the title isn’t meant to be a bit sarcastic. Works either way. “Somebody Told Me”, the song that first brought the band widespread recognition, is a thumping, bass-y powerhouse with “killer” synth and guitar interruptions. And who would dare frown upon a chorus as fresh and bold as: “Somebody told me/ You had a boyfriend/ Who looked like a girlfriend/ That I had in February of last year”?

   “All These Things That I’ve Done” (awesome video below…very attracted to the Asian) was a bit of a late bloomer for me and probably others, but its monumental scale and epic evolution from “soft” ballad to gospel arena rock have made it one of the more memorable songs from the album, and recently most played as well.

   What follows are all the songs that, were I the producer, I would have strategically placed in-between the five previous greats, to make sure all the gold wasn’t wasted upfront. But it turns out that by now, we’re so enamored by what we’ve heard (if you’re into the previously-mentioned sounds I’ve tried to describe), that we gladly greet and in most cases come to love what’s left on Hot Fuss. I found the back-to-back “Change Your Mind” and “Believe Me Natalie” particularly catchy, while “Everything Will Be Alright” makes a nice closer as an offbeat, half-fun, half-serious, semi-Beatlesque ballad.

   To appease Killers-haters out there, I’ll give the album one negative offering by saying that “Midnight Show” is kind of weak, more raw and better suited for dimly-lit Vegas bars perhaps. And Vegas really does seem to be the primary inspiration for the album…its energy, its youth, its bright lights and showmanship, all come through blaringly well on Hot Fuss (one of the more recent albums to make Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die), and I love it.

1 Comment

Filed under the killers

One response to “HOT FUSS by the killers

  1. This is incredible…

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