The Killers are not from the Caribbean. Nor are they sadists. So what the hell are those steel drums doing on ‘I Can’t Stay’? A shuffling Calypso track that’s all pink cocktail umbrellas, palm fronds in the breeze, and the hangover from Barry Manilow’s ‘Copacabana’, it just takes the band’s new “anything goes” approach too far.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of experimentation — elsewhere on their ’80s-obsessed third album, the Vegas quartet actually get away with ‘Careless Whisper’ saxophones and Howard Jones keyboard fills. But there’s real trouble when the song sounds best in an elevator or on call-waiting.
It’s not the only problem with ‘Day & Age’. Relying too heavily on Stewart Price’s glam production, almost half of the 10 tracks are more filler than, uhm, killer. ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ is clearly modelled on one of those gently swelling epics by The Cure but doesn’t actually travel anywhere. Most-like-‘Sam’s Town’, ‘Neon Tiger’ begins with a promising ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me’ blast and is almost saved by a roaring chorus, but ultimately lacks teeth.
The unremarkable ‘The World We Live In’ could be a lazy Duran Duran B-side and mirrorball anthem ‘Joy Ride’ (all slapped bass guitars, funk licks and swinging sax) once again proves that white boys can’t disco or grow afros. At least it’s not a cover of the Roxette hit.
But there are moments that don’t let you forget these guys once wrote ‘Mr Brightside’ and ‘When You Were Young’. The flourishing ‘Losing Touch’ is another mainstream masterpiece, blending their debut album’s synth-pop with its successor’s open road rock and the brass from Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’.
‘Human’ is exactly the kind of bright, glossy hit Pet Shop Boys crafted 20 years ago, ‘Spaceman’ has more than enough bang to reach the moon, and with its piano and strings, the ambitious ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ is just on the right side of overblown. And without a steel drum in sight, it’s simply magical.
- This article originally appeared on iafrica.com.