Now, the only song I had initially heard before buying "Sam's Town" was their first single "When You Were Young". Honestly, when I first heard it on the radio I thought "Are these guys serious?". The lyrics had an overall different direction than anything on "Hot Fuss" and seemed a little too grandiose. It took probably five or so spins for me to gradually get sucked in by the song and start hollaring "he doesn't look a thing like Jesus" with Brandon in my car. This is what I noticed with the rest of the songs on "Sam's Town". There isn't one song on the album that hits you at first and you immediately think #1 hit right here, like I had done before for "Mr. Brightside". That isn't such a bad thing, though. I have a feeling a lot of critics listened to "Sam's Town" one time through and probably bashed it once they didn't heard nothing similar to "Hot Fuss". Trust me, if I had written this review after my first listen through, I probably would have been with them in their negative assessment of “Sam’s Town”.
So now, almost a week after it's release and countless listens in my iPod, I am going to make my proclamation: SAM'S TOWN IS JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER THAN HOT FUSS.
Sam's Town (5/5) Starts off the album with a huge BANG. I love it when the synth plays in the background with the guitar rifts over it at 0:30 and 1:45 into the song. Great chorus, and of course the great anthem at the end screaming “I see London, I see Sam’s Town”. This should be the 2nd single of the album, unfortunately it’s “Bones”.
When You Were Young (4.5/5) Another great song with a great chorus. It took me a while for me to liken up to the song, but I now realize that it was probably the best crossover song to be the first single off the album. I was never motivated by the lyrics though, like “can we climb this mountain, I don’t know, higher now than ever before”. Brandon’s voice and the band’s musicianship make up for it though. Anyone else performing this song wouldn’t have worked.
Bling (Confessions of a King) (4.5/5) I thought I would hate this track just based off the title, but it’s actually one of the catchiest songs on the whole album. Brandon’s voice starts off real emotional and intense with lyrics like “When I offer you survival, You say it's hard enough to live, It's not so bad, it's not so bad, How do you know that you're right” then he goes into cowboy mode with lyrics like “I feel my vision slipping in and out of focus, But I'm pushing on for that horizon”. I definitely like the contrast of vulnerability and bravado in this song. But then the last minute of the song is full of cliché-ridden lyrics like “higher and higher, we’re going to take it down to the wire, we’re gonna make it out of the fire”. Gag, minus 0.5 just for that.
For Reasons Unknown (5/5) The song that most resembles anything off “Hot Fuss”. My favorite song lyrically, and has a great instrumental during the chorus. Subtle yet catchy, “Hot Fuss” all over it.
Read My Mind (4/5) I thought I would really like this song after my first listen, which was the opposite of the rest of the album since I thought I would hate a majority of it after the first listen. Instrumentals sounds like they came straight off a depeche mode track, which I am a big fan of. However, it doesn’t have as much replay value as some of the other songs on the album for me. Best part of the song is the last 1:25.
Uncle Jonny (4/5) Probably the most “Rock” song on the album, lyrics are heartfelt and it’s got some great rifts. Not sure why they put it right by “Read My Mind” as the style in each song are almost opposite. Now I see why the guys are levitating in the picture from the album sleeve!
Bones (2/5) I had high expectations for this song since I heard it was going to be the 2nd single off the album. My first listen through was gave me the reaction of “eh, that's it?”. That is still my assessment of the song, “eh??”. Sure, it’s catchy but I hate everything about the chorus from the lyrics to the horns trumpeting behind them. Doesn’t sound like a Killers track to me. It would have been okay for a B-Side I think, but not a 2nd single – no way.
My List (4/5) The album kind of hits a lull point here, again I’m not sure why they put on the the slowest songs on the album next to the most quick, annoying songs on the album (see above). Overall, I like the piano in the track and it’s a calming song.
This River Is Wild (5/5) I heard some critics bash this song pretty bad before buying the album. I thought it would be pretty cliché ridden as the title suggests. But now it’s my favorite song on the album overall. It doesn’t let up anywhere - great guitars, chorus, lyrics. Should be a single someday, I hope. “I shake a little” when I hear this song.
Why Do I Keep Counting? (3.5/5) A quirky little song, I could never get into. The chorus doesn’t do it for me, however it starts off pretty nice. Reminds me a little of “Everything Will Be Alright” from “Hot Fuss” as far as vulnerability and trying to be inspirational at the same time. No coincidence that both songs are the last ones on each album.
I don’t think the following songs count as the overall assessment of the album since they are bonus b-sides, but I’ll review them anyway.
Where All the White Dance (2.5/5) Almost as bad as Bones but not quite. The piano and Brandon’s voice do not fit well together on this song.
All the Pretty Faces (4/5) Arguably should have been a main track on Sam’s Town. I like this song a lot, some people disagree with me though. Very arena rock friendly.
Daddy’s Eyes (3/5) Average track, nothing more to say about it. Subject matter is interesting though.
Like I said, the more and more I listen to “Sam’s Town” the more I like it. I may get sick of it soon, but it’s #1 in my CD player now. Why can this album better than "Hot Fuss"? Overall, I think there are the same number of great songs on “Sam’s Town” as there were on "Hot Fuss". It's still too early to tell for me.
On "Hot Fuss", my favorite songs are
Believe Me Natalie
Smile Like You Mean It
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Change Your Mind
On Sam’s Town my favorites are:
This River Is Wild
When You Were Young
For Reasons Unknown
Bling (Confessions of a King)
All the Pretty Faces
Pros: Different approach for the Killers, which shows the band isn’t afraid to experiment. They succeed in doing so as well. Uplifting?
Cons: Not as catchy as “Hot Fuss”, some lyrics that are just a little too optimistic for my tastes.
Call me crazy, but "Sam's Town" is an 4.5/5 in my book.