Killers were on the market-friendly, MTV-ready wing of the alternative upswing earlier this decade, thanks to their debut with Hot Fuss and especially its singles, like “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside”. Yet that also created a backlash, given extra fuel by singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers’ public feuds – albeit with the likes of The Bravery and Fall Out Boy, but over who was riding who’s coattails and the hogging of attention from their major label. And when their sophomore record, Sam’s Town, failed to be, as Flowers had promised, “One of the best albums of the past twenty years”, those feelings hardened. And while their third release, Day & Age, doesn’t dip in failed attempts like Sam’s Town, neither does it reach the once-memorable heights of Hot Fuss.
When “Losing Touch” opens the new record with grand synth and horns, it’s clear that The Killers are keeping their somewhat cheesy eighties bright anthem attitude, but the piece’s upswing also indicates that they’ve abandoned their ill-advised stabs from Sam’s Town at adding a working man’s toughness. Day & Age only gets bigger and cheesier with following singles “Human” and “Spaceman”, but both tracks aren’t bad, once you get past that.
In general, that’s the way with Day & Age: Killers’ grand outpouring is too heart-on-its-sleeve, too much synth explosion, but it’s also relative nice, in its lightweight way. Numbers like “A Dustland Fairytale”, “Neon Tiger”, and “The World We Live In” can’t stand up to “Mr. Brightside”, but also won’t make you turn the dial. There are a few tries at something new, like the been-done-better-by-others disco-dance of “Joy Ride” or the fairly smooth and fun tropicalia on “I Can’t Stay”, and the sadder, darker pieces like “This Is Your Life” or finisher “Goodnight, Travel Well” are overdone. But the record rests on Killers’ grand outlook, which is both enjoyable and forgettable.