Throwback Thursday: Ten Years Ago "Hot Fuss" Ruled The Earth!


Have you ever met someone who, the first moment you laid eyes on them, took your breath away? You probably thought to yourself that this person was so beautiful, so wonderful, and that they were "it", man.

Then one day you realized that they were a total fraud. Whatever awe-inspiring qualities they had initially displayed had served only to help overlook the cracks in their façade. After some time, though, the attractive qualities that once left you so enamored now failed to hide their many fatal flaws.

Even as you willed yourself to break it off and to move on, you were bewildered by the transformation that had taken place and how the mere mention of a name that once made your heart race now left you cold.

For me, no two words signify adoration-turned-to-stone-cold indifference more than "The Killers".



What had so enthralled me the first time I heard their music on the radio was how upbeat, energetic, and refreshing change from the dumbed-down-and-detuned rape-rock that had been dominating the modern rock airwaves, leading modern rock stations to add Metallica to their playlist.

The arrival of The Killers signified a turning of the tide, cleansing our palate of Limp Bizkit and Korn (sounds like a shitty day at Hometown Buffet, doesn't it?). While "Somebody Told Me" was the perfect opening salvo for a new band with hopes of chart domination, part of me wondered if listening to the rest of their album, Hot Fuss, would only reveal that the band had little else to offer beyond that snazzy first single.

Thankfully, what I heard after the first couple of spins was a young band that, against all odds, had managed to arrive fully formed, reaching a creative apex that most bands spend their entire careers trying (and ultimately failing) to attain. There was no way this could be the work of a rag-tag foursome of Las Vegas twenty-somethings.



But, of course, it was and Hot Fuss spent the better part of the next two years in my CD player.

I remember greeting the band's second album, Sam's Town, with more anticipation than I'd had for any other release in recent memory. The first single, "When You Were Young", lacked the originality of "Somebody Told Me", but still sounded great blasting out of even the crappiest transistor radio. The rest of the album, however, revealed a band that seemed more eager to fit in than stand apart from their modern rock brethren.  This was no longer the band that had arrived so fully formed. They were changing and grasping at certain stylistic straws that sometimes worked, sometimes didn't.

By channeling a young Bruce Springsteen in the bridge of "When You Were Young" (and elsewhere on the album), Brandon Flowers revealed himself - to my ears at least - as someone still in the developmental stages of their musical journey. He'd obviously traded in his Duran Duran albums for a copy of Born To Run, but why?  Did Brandon see himself as the new Boss, or worse, Bono?

Mind you, there's nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve, but it was obvious these were such new influences to him that the roots didn't seem to run deep enough. The band could (and would) discard them like a dirty shirt in time for their third album, Day & Age.



All the while, they continued to tour to sold-out crowds here and abroad.

Meanwhile, many (myself, for instance) went from being huge fans of the band to fence-sitters filled with a growing sense of apathy. This, after all, was a band that had released Hot Fuss, then re-released it more than a year later with added tracks, leading devoted fans to either buy the re-released version to get the two additional tracks or, gasp, grab them free (but illegally) from any number of online sources.

To me, it was a reward for the fair-weather fans at the expense of the more die-hard fans who'd bought the first edition of the album and subsequent singles in order to picked up the non LP b-sides.

Despite such gripes on my part, I welcomed the release of Day & Age, the band's third studio album, hoping it would be the return to form die-hard fans craved. After a couple of listens, though, it became quite evident that the Hot Fuss had been a massive, brilliant fluke.. Still, as this holiday season approached, I found myself wondering what sort of cash-in The Killers would make this holiday season.

A friend of mine went so far as to call me jaded for thinking that the band would do such a thing a third time.

Ah, but when the band's live CD/DVD Live From The Royal Albert Hall hit store shelves, he just looked at me, shaking his head. There was no need for me to say "I told you so", as The Killers had done it for me.

As for the band's fourth album, Battle Born, all one can do is roll one's eyes at how far this once great band has fallen.

I don't say this with any sense of happiness or superiority. Hot Fuss to this day remains one of the best debut albums in the history of rock.  Sure, some critics consider it only a great half-album, but, oh, what a great half-album it is.

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