When looking at the track list for indie rock quartet The Killers’ debut album Hot Fuss after ten years, it’s almost as if I’m looking at the band’s greatest hits. Longtime fans of bands are often fans of their older material, rather than their latest. With tracks like “Somebody Told Me”, “Smile like You Mean It”, “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Mr. Brightside” encompassing one album, how can anyone argue against how strong The Killers’ early work was?
Though the opening track “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” is not a part of their greatest hits, it’s still a strong track nonetheless. The bass played by bassist/backing vocalist Mark Stoermer in the beginning is infectious, and sets a fine tone for the proceeding tracks. Lead vocalist Brandon Flowers possesses a somewhat mournful tone while singing “Jenny was a friend of mine” in the chorus and builds up emotion in his voice while singing “I swore I’d never let her go,” making the track strong both on a lyrical standpoint, and in the sense of showing the range of emotion felt for an altered relationship. It’s clear that this relationship is rocky from the first line Flowers speaks: “we took a walk that night, but it wasn’t the same.”
I couldn’t possibly write a review of this album without mentioning the track “Mr. Brightside”. The track is one of The Killers’ most popular songs to date, even after ten years and three albums. It is truly timeless, and brings the best strengths of each band member to the surface, ranging from the instantly recognizable guitar intro from guitarist/backing vocalist Dave Keuning to Flowers’ infectious voice singing “destiny is calling me.” Though the album has many great tracks on it, if I had to point to one to call my favorite it would be “Mr. Brightside”.
Flowers’ vocal style is among its strongest within “Smile Like You Mean it”. The subdued nature of Flowers’ voice complemented with the keyboard makes the track a memorable one. However, it doesn’t feature strong elements from just Flowers. Keuning also hits listeners with a guitar solo almost out of nowhere that adds great cohesion to the other sections of the track, demonstrating the ability of The Killers to work as one entity.
Another strong track worth noting is “On Top”. It starts a little more electronic-heavy, but smoothly transitions into a healthy mix of synthesizer, guitar and drums. This track embodies many positive attributes that The Killers possess: a strong chorus, good backing vocals and cleverly written instrumentals to wrap around Flowers’ words.
The overall sound of Hot Fuss was mainly influenced from new wave and post-punk artists such as Duran Duran, and some of that can be felt throughout the tracks. Hot Fuss has been very successful since its release, being ranked 43rd on Rolling Stone’s “100 best albums of the decade” and receiving seven-times platinum status in the UK. It’s clear to see why the album is so highly acclaimed, given that it’s survived the test of time. The Killers are another band I mark in my books that have had an incredibly solid debut album release.