7 Of The Best: The Killers
If any one band could sum up the triumphs and faults of the indie boom it's probably The Killers.
Emerging from Las Vegas with devastating jaw lines, impeccable blazers, and a fistful of choruses, the group's sheer, undaunted ambition pulled them from the toilet circuit to stadiums.
At their best, few bands of their generation pack the punch that The Killers do - it's rousing, arena fare, built for open spaces, long days, and even longer nights.
Of course, it's also completely daft in places - "Are we human or are we dancer?" - but the group's willingness to put themselves out there, to walk their own path, still brings a smile to our face.
New album 'Imploding The Mirage' is out now (Clash review HERE) an inspired dose of homeland rock meets disco sheen that presents The Killers, once more, at their best.
Here, Clash writers name a few favourites.
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'Uncle Jonny' (As picked by Narzra Ahmed)
From the electrifying opening chords to the lyrics that *really* speak to you ("When everybody else refrained / My uncle Jonny did cocaine"), 'Uncle Jonny' (Sam's Town) is often overlooked but is essential listening for The Killers' fans.
The track was actually inspired by Flowers' very real uncle, who is something of a "black sheep" of the family. It's almost an intervention in song form and you can hear the desperation in Brandon Flowers' voice as he pleads with his uncle Jonny, whilst seeming to understand his addiction ("I wanna go out tonight"). Even the way the track's winding finale feels heartfelt and passionate. At four mins and 30 seconds, it's a track which seems to whizz by.
It's a fun, energetic number and it consists of everything that makes The Killers brilliant. It's a 'big', bold track which no-one does better than the Las Vegas band.
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‘Spaceman’ (As picked by Josh Crowe)
This has to go down as the most ambitious release from The Killers, with Flowers reminiscing and in-turn re-inventing the time he was rudely awoken by an extra-terrestrial. The experimental track is comprised of thrashed out guitar chords and giddy synths, with a video that could qualify for Star Wars The Musical.
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'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll' (As picked by Samantha Hall)
One of The Killers’ best hidden gems within their eclectic and large discography and my favourite song in existence, 'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll' is a massive track that’s unlike anything else The Killers have ever made.
Written ironically to mock the general concept of “being indie”, the track has been misunderstood by many throughout the years but still comes on top as a favourite, especially with UK fans who seem to understand it better than anyone else.
With a piano-led intro, it entangles slightly distorted vocals with a playful bass line and punchy guitar riffs to produce a sound that’s powerful, anthemic and simply makes you feel alive. Offering probably one of the best bridges in any Killers track, 'Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll' is a classic Killers anthem that has no doubt played a major part in helping them become the band they are today.
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‘Run For Cover’ (As picked by Josh Crowe)
‘Run For Cover’ is rock’n’roll in all its glory, with immaculate twinges of nostalgia from their previous work. Bustling with a restlessness that resembles their 2005 crowning glory, the single shines in all its foot-tapping glory and is iconic for its ability for sending The Killers all adoring fan-base into a frantic dervish of mosh-pits and euphoria.
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'My List' (As picked by Fergal Kinney)
“I've always thought,” explained Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys, “that music is about making people happy and having a good time. I think that's because I come from Blackpool.”
A few weeks ago, I was happy and having a good time with my friend Jack when he disclosed a memory from earlier in our friendship. He’d mentioned his love of the Killers, and a younger, more foolish version of myself had scoffed. You’re a different version of yourself every 18 months in your 20s, but this try-hard folly had hit particularly hard.
In my early teens, I understood all of the essential truths about the music of the Killers that I spent the next decade busily disavowing. I was thirteen when 'Sam’s Town' was released. I remember repeat listening to a Limewire radio rip of 'When You Were Young', complete with interruption from a Spanish radio DJ. What I understood then, and what I finally understand again now, is that the populism that the Killers have always dealt in is far more potent - far harder to achieve, in fact - than almost anything of their pampered Large Rich Son US peers over whom the Killers so shamelessly leapfrogged.
It makes complete sense that Flowers is such a student of Pet Shop Boys - his Las Vegas being the US analogue of Chris Lowe’s Blackpool. When listening to 'Sam’s Town' in my native Blackburn - where Blackpool is our surrogate party town in the same way Las Vegas is for its satellite states - I vividly remember being drawn again and again to 'My List', which sat past 'Sam’s Town’s brilliantly sugary singles at the later reaches of the record’s sequencing. It’s brilliant - unusually sparse for a Killers track, its emotional register anchored firmly in the sweet spot between the redemptive and the utterly hammy that the Killers so successfully occupy.
If the Strokes sang lines like “When you rock and roll with me / There's nowhere else I'd rather be” it would be pastische, knowing, boring. Flowers has a great hand in transcendental silliness, like so much good pop.
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‘For Reasons Unknown’ (As picked by Josh Crowe)
This track is truly unique in that it is the only Killers song where Flowers plays bass. You can tell the band had arena shows in mind when they made the track, with its anthemic chorus and immaculate riffs.
The video is also a fantastic extension of the song with a visual plethora of tumbleweed, unruly goats and Brandon Flowers head attached to a chicken being spit roasted.
Why, you ask? For reasons unknown.
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'Mr. Brightside' (As picked by Robin Murray)
Sometimes the most obvious answer is in fact the correct one. And there's nothing obtuse about 'Mr. Brightside' - from the lyrical tale of seduction through to the glossy production it's an expertly pieced together blast of indie disco which grabs you by the lapels and eases you out on to the dancefloor, willing or otherwise.
There's a perfectly good reason this went from niche indie discos through to All Bar Ones singalongs - it's an incredible pop song, a sign of Brandon Flowers' dazzling ambition and the emphatically effective punch that The Killers can have when united together, as one.
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'Imploding The Mirage' is out now.
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