New Years Eve San Francisco
Related Articles: Music, All

The Killers

Retro New Wave

What Happens In Vegas sometimes fronts like it happened in England. In the grand tradition of the Material Girl, anglophile angst-rockers The Killers aren't from the UK, but they want you to think they are. Spawned in Sin City, the four-piece group, named for a fictional band from a New Order video, mixes hyper-synthesized sound with Brit Pop attitude- and accents.

The Killers came together when lead singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers (on the rebound from a breakup with former band Blush Response) answered an ad placed by guitarist David Keuning. Keuning's use of the magic word 'Oasis' (a fitting call to arms given their desert location) caught Flowers' attention. After comparing favorite Gallagher brothers' songs, Flowers and Keuning determined they were a match, and the two-some started grinding out tunes (the first being pop power ballad "Mr. Brightside"). But two smartly dressed, manifest-destiny-minded musicians does not an indie rock band make. The group would only be complete once bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci signed on for future stardom.

While paying their day-job dues (the boys held down gigs including medical courier, bellhop and Banana Republic sales rep) The Killers collaborated on the songs that would later become their debut album Hot Fuss. Upon signing with the London-based indie label Lizard King, the group began touring in the UK. In the newly minted tradition, they earned a hometown following only after earning a devoted one abroad. By the time their debut album Hot Fuss hits stores in the U.S. (June 15), UK residents will already be on a downloading-ring tones basis with the record.

Hot Fuss as a whole draws so heavily on the Cure that if you played the album backwards it might contain a hidden message to Robert Smith. On a track-by-track basis, one notices further startling similarities between the retro new wavers and their influences. With Morrissey having abdicated his throne of mope, The Killers take a crack at the crown with their more melancholic melodies (see "Andy You're a Star" and "Believe Me Natalie"). They may be less literate versions of Smiths staples, but - thank you, distorted guitar- they're irresistible. Radio's latest love interest, "Somebody Told Me" recalls David Bowie, Duran Duran and Depeche Mode in one fell swoop. You might also point out that the "You have a boyfriend, who looks like a girlfriend" line sounds a lot like Blur's "Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls" ("Girls and Boys") lyric.

Nevertheless, what the Killers lack in authenticity, they make up for with cock-sure execution. They've developed their brand of sound (a sound inaugurated by others and replicated by many) to the extent that dance floor frenzy invariably ensues. And, in the end, you should be dancing.