The Killers: Saving a prayer till the morning after

Ottawa Xpress
October 7th, 2004

Quaint praise
By: Dylan Young

The Killers take a decidedly non-homicidal approach to potential detractors.

If you're a band that's poured blood and sweat into an album, you've got to wonder how happy you're going to be when people start referring to your efforts as their "guilty pleasure." Sure, it's bloody nice that people are listening, and if they're enjoying it, well, that's great too, but why "guilty"? It's like being bitch-slapped with a compliment - yeah, I really like your music but don't tell anyone, 'kay?

That's exactly the kind of double-edged success that Las Vegas, pop rock super-newbies The Killers are experiencing. Their album Hot Fuss was the stuff of NME hyperbole before it had even hit the shelves, with the vaunted music rag stating that "right now few bands are a safer bet than The Killers."

When I ask Killers' singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers how he feels about the buzz surrounding the band being largely about the buzz surrounding the band, he displays a surprisingly reflective poise for someone in their early 20s.

"Yeah, I guess it's kind of annoying, but really I'm just happy people are talking about the album at all. We knew what a long shot it was going to be getting into this. We've been amazingly lucky."

And what about the band being characterized as a guilty pleasure?

"That's a funny thing. What's a guilty pleasure anyway? I guess it's something you like for its quality in spite of it being uncool at the time."

Flowers may have a point. Though The Killers ply a masterful tweak on the hook-laden twang of '80s revivalism, their version of it has a much more mainstream drift than that of, say, Franz Ferdinand or stellarstar*, their slavishness to the appeal of the massive chart-scorching single being that much more obvious. Hot Fuss has all the twinkly, emotive heart that John Hughes movies promised us, but lacks the underground cred to give it edge. In a sense, The Killers are being screwed by their success. Flowers manages to find perspective on it.

"People used to call Duran Duran a guilty pleasure," he notes. "Michael Stipe was doing an interview recently and he was saying that he used to consider them his guilty pleasure even though he would insult them publicly. He regretted it, saying that today he believes that they were a strong band."

"So, I don't really mind the characterization so long as people eventually come around to appreciating what we're trying to do. I guess we're a little more clean-cut than The Strokes or The White Stripes and in a sense we still have to pay our dues, but that doesn't mean we can't write a good song."

So are Duran Duran still a good band?

"No, they make awful music now,' exclaims Flowers. "I just got the new album and it's laughable. If you want the model for a band that lasts, look at U2.

"I don't know what it is," he muses. "You know what it is? U2 accept that they're getting older and they write songs about being 40-year-old dads. Duran Duran still write about being young and glamorous. I think it's about maturing with your songs instead of trying to maintain this artificial image."