Review Summary: "Day & Age" is pretty much the most brilliant, retarded piece of music released this year. Do you like pop albums that are multi-layered for no other reason than to be ridiculous? Then you'll love this.
Does anyone really
take the Killers seriously? I mean, if Hot Fuss
wasn’t enough to convince you, “When You Were Young” off of Sam’s Town
should have made everyone and their mother realize Brand Flowers and company are in the business of making ridiculous pop music, seemingly done as though they are writing the greatest song of all time over and over but with that slight wink and nod to denote that they’re in on the joke as well. Previously, maybe the message had gotten muddled, as their debut was a little too glammy and their follow up a little bit too serious. Day & Age
however makes no pretensions of being anything other than what the Killers have always done best; ridiculously silly, stupid/genius pop.
And you know what, it works wonderfully.
My only real gripe with the album is that they perhaps put out the least impressive song as the single. “Human” showcases the Killers at their most normal, sounding just like anything from their previous two albums. While the lyric “Are we human, or are we dancer” has caused some slight confusion (despite being a neat allusion), the song is generally just a normal Killers song, sounding a bit too much like “When You Were Young” at points. The rest of the album is far more pushed to the extreme of Flowers weird songwriting, with the random horn section, flamenco flourish, organ, random dance rhythm, you name it and Flowers probably wrote something similar for Day & Age
While “Human” is predictable and standard, the rest of the album is anything but. From the opening track “Losing Touch“, we get a dirty groove that flitters in between the incredibly saccharine introduction and chorus. Imagine a marriage between Christmas-time bells and whistles and late 80’s sleeze rock, all with reckless abandon for showmanship. “Spaceman” and “Joy Ride” are similarly flamboyant songs filled with non-sequitors, as “Joy Ride” has horns and a LA-styled rhythm for no other reason than it sounds awesome when combined. It sounds like these songs were either written in 5 minutes or crafted for months upon months, with so much going on that the line between pop music and a deeper, more thoughtful art-rock attitude gets blurred (note: art-rock is used in the least art-rock way possible).
Within all the glitz and glamour the album has (and boy does it pile it on [well, might I add]), there is also a decidedly human aspect to it. Singer Brandon Flowers, for all of his blowhardiness and pompous singing nature, still has those cracks and frailties in his voice the make him easy to relate to. While his lyrics still somewhat suffer from his inability to decide whether he wants to write accessible pop lyrics or more insightful material, his singing has never been overall more entertaining and easy to listen to. “I Can’t Stay” has him crooning over an island styled tune, replete with harp and xylophones. “A Dustland Fairytale” starts off normally enough, a soft piano and synth over Flowers singing “He’d look just like you’d want him too; some kind of slick chrome American prince”, but follows the Killers realms of expanding songs into the ridiculous as it turns into a bombastic arena-rock anthem, Flowers bellowing away.
The human concept of the record begins to show in “Neon Tiger”, where halfway through the song breaks down and Flowers rambles on and on:
I don't wanna be kept, I don't wanna be caged, I don't wanna be damned- oh hell
I don't wanna be broke, I don't wanna be saved, I don't wanna be S.O.L.
Give me rolling hills so tonight can be the night that I send them up a thousand thrills
Can you cut me some slack, Cause I don't wanna go back, I want a new day and age
It’s a point for a glitzy record to turn into something more relatable. While follow up “The World That We Live In” continues to have an upbeat glossy feel, it seems more down to earth and touching than anything else before it. “Goodnight, Travel Well” is the epoch of the Killers career thus far, being darker, more brooding, and a lot more real than anything else they’ve ever written. The song details the feelings about losing a loved one, and it slowly builds up from the numb feelings one experiences at first (“The unknown distance to the great beyond stares back at my grieving frame) to the rambling nature of trying to accept death (“Every time you fall and every time you try, every foolish dream, and every compromise…etc) in a slow but paced fashion. As it reaches its intense climax of pained realization (“stay, don’t leave me, the stars can’t wait for your sign, don’t signal now”), one can’t help but appreciate how down to earth the Killers bring the album.
It is with a closing extended spasm of “Goodnight, travel well” that the Killers decide to end Day & Age
, and it is essentially the message of the album. A grandiloquent trip, Day & Age
is best listened to with no expectations, on a night where you have little else to do but just listen to the new Killers record. It is a hodgepodge of stupid ideas that one will either find brilliant or, well, stupid. However, it is hard to deny that it is a pop album of massive ambition and yet, suffers from none of the pretentiousness that plagues most of the Killers contemporaries in that aspect. Yeah, it’s highly derivative and entirely full of itself, but when it’s so ridiculously fun (and at the right moments, authentic), its easy to look past such trivial matters and just love the music for being so damn cool.