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Day & Age
A few decent songs can't outshine this record's over-produced stadium rock. The Las Vegas rockers' latest just doesn't have the same sparkle.
Paul Nolan, 26 Nov 2008
From the evidence of Sam’s Town and now Day & Age, The Killers appear to be in serious danger of following the trajectory established by Oasis and The Strokes: produce a bunch of brilliant music early in your career, then release a string of increasingly unimpressive follow-up albums. Certainly, on Day & Age, there’s little sign of the vitality and imagination that so distinguished the Las Vegas quartet’s debut, Hot Fuss. Instead, what we have are a few decent tracks in amongst an awful lot of dull and over-produced stadium rock.
The opening ‘Losing Touch’ illustrates much of what’s wrong with Day & Age. It actually starts out promisingly enough, with Bowie-esque horns and a lyric also reminiscent of the Dame’s mid-‘70s peak (“You sold your soul like a Roman vagabond”). However, any idiosyncratic touches are swiftly pushed aside in favour of a bland and generic rock tune, which unfortunately concludes with a genuinely horrible guitar solo.
Equally disappointing are ‘Human’ and ‘Spaceman’, the former an effort at what I can only describe as “stadium dance” (which is as unappealing as it sounds), the latter a vain attempt at capturing some of New Order’s glacial majesty. Thankfully, things do pick up with the album’s best track, ‘Joy Ride’, a funky tune with a cracking disco rhythm.
There is actually a noticeable improvement in the second half of Day & Age, with the acoustic rhythms of ‘I Can’t Stay’ and the ominous atmospherics of ‘Goodnight, Travel Well’ proving very impressive.
Nonetheless, the album only sporadically rises above mediocrity. Nowhere on Day & Age is there a song comparable in quality to ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ or ‘Andy, You’re A Star’. In truth, The Killers would benefit from stripping away the ultra-slick production sheen that now smothers their music, and writing a few songs that rely on understatement rather than bombast for their power. Sometimes less really is more.