One quick glance at the track list for The Killers’ debut studio album, and it could be mistaken for a list of their hit singles. Essentially, it is. Hot Fuss thrust Brandon Flowers and his band to the front of popular music when it came out in 2004.
A big part of the success of this new wave/Brit-pop-influenced Las Vegas group is due to Flowers, and his personality, energy and unique vocal stylings. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s good-looking, either.) But his grandiose rock ideas permeate the album, and everything The Killers have done thus far. Sure, he overreaches at points, but that’s what makes him Brandon Flowers, and that’s part of his appeal.
Flowers wails over the frantic rock of the first track, “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine.” The song is the second part of the Murder Trilogy, a series of songs about the murder of a woman named Jennifer. “Midnight Show,” the third part, also appears on the album. The first song in the series “Leave the Bourbon On The Shelf,” is on Sawdust, the band’s b-sides and rarities album. In part, then, Hot Fuss is a semi-failed attempt at a concept, though the other songs seem to fit the theme of the trilogy. “Mr. Brightside,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” and “Somebody Told Me” all share lyrical themes of jealousy and heartbreak. The sheer desperation in Flowers’ voice, too, goes in line with the thoughts of a lovesick killer. Unrequited love can hurt, and The Killers really capture that feeling in Hot Fuss. One could say that the failure of the trilogy itself plays into the concept of a poorly-executed murder, but that might be stretching it.
Maybe it’s Flowers’ poignant pleading that drew listeners to the album. He has a voice that makes people sit up and listen, and when he’s backed by soaring keys and solid percussion, it’s hard not to turn up the music. The Killers’ sound is big, with layers of manipulated vocals, synthesizers and guitar. Listening to Hot Fuss is an epic sonic journey.
Nothing that The Killers have produced since their debut has measured up to the grandiosity of Hot Fuss. “Are we human or are we dancer?” is not a question that needed to be asked, and Brandon Flowers wandered into the world of strange solo albums about Las Vegas.
But it’s ok—they left us Hot Fuss before they went away.
The Killers – Hot Fuss tracklist
- “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine”
- “Mr. Brightside”
- “Smile Like You Mean It”
- “Somebody Told Me”
- “All These Things That I’ve Done”
- “Andy, You’re a Star”
- “On Top”
- “Change Your Mind”
- “Believe Me Natalie”
- “Midnight Show”
- “Everything Will Be Alright”