If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m really enjoying revisiting the archives of STT and listening to bands that we discussed way back. We talked about today’s featured act in 2014 and discussed the debut album that had critics and fans awestruck. What happened after that rocket ship of success? Let’s dig in!
Upon completing the tour for their Hot Fuss debut album, the Killers headed back into the studio to work on their sophomore effort. Anticipation truly couldn’t have been higher since the first record had done so well commercially and critically. The band returned to their roots in Las Vegas and recorded the album at the Palms Casino Resort, with finishing touches done in London in June of 2006. Lead singer Brandon Flowers proclaimed they had just wrapped “one of the best albums of the past twenty years” and said that he wanted to capture “everything important that got me to where I am today.” The lead single “When You Were Young” was leaked in July of the same year, and instantly the Killers knew they had another hit single (they were so right—that single garnered two Grammy Award nominations later in the year).
The full album, Sam’s Town, hit shelves in September of 2006. The name came from the Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Vegas. The neon sign was visible through the childhood bedroom window of Mark Stoermer, the group’s bassist. Sales didn’t quite match the debut record, sitting somewhere around ten million sold worldwide. Critically, however, reviews of this album are almost comically mixed. Rolling Stone gave it a two-star review, mocking it relentlessly. If you ever want to be amused, go, and check out the full write up someday—but the highlights include calling it a “1980s Springsteen clone; better than Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers; not as good as John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.” What the publication probably wasn’t expecting was that Killers fans voted Sam’s Town as the most underrated album of the decade in December of 2009. If that wasn’t enough, Q Magazine has it as the eleventh best album of the entire decade. Uproxx noted the scathing reviews from various publications were actually positive for the Killers. That sort of vitriol gave fans the fuel to promote the album even more, and others to check it out to see how bad it truly was. What most realized is, Sam’s Town is actually quite solid.
The album stayed on different charts for the better part of 12 months, thanks to three commercial singles from this album. Although some were better than others, a couple of the singles are still in heavy rotation today. Did they have the sheer volume of radio play that “Somebody Told Me” or “Mr. Brightside” had from Hot Fuss? Definitely not. But the album as a whole is actually better, in my humble opinion. Hot Fuss had a couple low points, but there is maybe only one song I tend to drift off on with Sam’s Town.
In 2007 the band shot a video in Tokyo, Japan for the single “Read My Mind”. The B side of the record was a remix including the Pet Shop Boys which exposed them to new audiences. The ticket demand on their tour became so huge, they had to increase the size of their venues from mid-size ones to the arenas. They sold out Madison Square Garden and headlined the Glastonbury Festival in Europe.
After their third studio album, the Killers took a break for a year, but they’ve been hitting it hard ever since. An eighth studio album is in the works and they’re hoping for an early 2023 release. If you’re looking for a 2000’s version of alt rock or pop rock, this album and the band are for you. It reminds me of ‘90s rock, which is my wheelhouse, so if you’re a fan of any of that, you’ll enjoy this. Don’t sit there in your heartache, stream this one today!
Top 3 Tracks:
- When You Were Young
- Read My Mind
- Why Do I Keep Counting?