#9) The Killers: Hot Fuss, 2004
I had almost forgotten that these songs even made up an album because of how often they would show up individually on so many of my playlists. How did it make it’s way on to this list? I blame shuffle. Nearing the end of the semester I rode the bus home with my ipod in, when “Smile Like You Mean It” started playing, and a flood of memories overtook me. I realized that Hot Fuss had to become a contender, and it kept playing on my iPod the rest of that final week of school.
On a general note, the Killers represent a very important aspect of the Ohsies for me: a return to all things 80’s. I for one, never really left them, having drawn most of my ideas of teenage-hood from the brat pack. Yet, for the wider culture, decades tend to need an extra 10 years to cool off and come back into style; we had to say goodbye to the 90’s before we could re-appreciate the big hair, big sleeves and big shoulders of the 80’s. But soon enough, we saw Ray-bans, mustaches, and synthesizers swing back into popularity, and all three were at least partially due to Brandon Flowers.
Anyway, on the bus last week, after I decided to let Hot Fuss have it’s chance, the opening helicopter of “Jenny is a Friend of Mine” yanked me from my present state to the same physical spot roughly 6 years ago. For a few years during my undergrad I had the same schedule every Friday: After Saxophone masterclass I would run to the bus loop, catch the 99 B-line, transfer at Broadway Station, skytrain to New West, and literally sprint up the hill to the church where I ran a youth group in the evening, arriving just in time to let volunteers in and frantically set up for the event. Why does this matter? Because I learned to sympathize with many kinds of killers… no, actually, it’s because Hot Fuss became one of the few albums that had a high enough energy level to pump me up for the night and to supply an uphill-sprint soundtrack.
The first four tracks are non-stop, and in perfect 80’s form are complete with epic, sing-a-long-able choruses and nearly British accents. “Mr. Brightside” begs to be yelled out with not a little bit of anger, and “Somebody Told Me” is so catchy that it’s dangerous to end with ever, or else you’ll be singing it for the rest of your days. That’s why it is couched in the middle of an album, by the way. I’m sure of it.
“All These Things That I’ve Done” seems to be a turning point on the album, and it holds a variety of turning points within it. I almost feel like it’s an album within an album, when it cuts down to the building harmonies on “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier”, and then returns to the earlier “but don’t you put me on the back burner…” lines. At first it sounds like the album is finally chilling out, but really this track has as much energy as the first four combined, and we realize that we’ve simply been working our way up to this one.
But they couldn’t just keep going, so Andy, You’re a Star significantly slows the tempo while still creating a sense of eager anxiety, until we get major chords in the chorus. And then soon enough it works it’s way into incredible combination of synth-pop licks and tamborine in the On Top intro, which makes me feel like I’m ready for anything. “We don’t need to satisfy tonight” becomes my mantra going into youth group, as the album turns to “Change Your Mind” which mostly just keeps me moving.
“Believe Me Natalie” makes me forget that the horns it uses are fake. For one of the only times ever, I just don’t care. I just love all the tom beats. And as we approach the end of the album, “Midnight Show” keeps a high energy, but unfortunately there is nothing else about this song that I can get into. It almost sounds like a rip of a bad 80’s track. Maybe I just don’t like all the innuendo, but for whatever reason it’s my least favorite track on the album.
Still, one complaint ain’t bad, and when it counts Hot Fuss pulls together a great conclusion with “Everything Will Be Alright”; yet another important mantra when working with teens. Flower’s distorted voice has become a strong trigger for remembering much of our nearly past decade, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing either.