As far as indie rock is concerned, there are not many albums that can summarise the 2000’s quite like Hot Fuss; an outstanding twelve-track record that features a (not-so-subtle) murder trilogy focusing on lead characters Andy and Jenny, placed carefully within a collection of alternative dance anthems, post-punk influences and a variety of mournful lyrical themes. Released in June 2004, The Killers’ iconic debut reached number one in the UK album charts within just a few months before spending a remarkable 173 weeks there – more than any other release that decade.
While Brandon Flowers may have continued his impressive streak of releases over the years, both with the band and as a renowned solo artist, those of us who grew up in the noughties will always remember Hot Fuss as the angsty, synth-fuelled soundtrack to our youth. With the forthcoming release of the band’s fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, we’re taking a look back at the UK edition of their infamous full-length debut….
Opening track, ‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’, instantly showcases Flowers’ infectious faux-Brit vocal talents alongside a series of memorable Cure-esque guitar riffs and perfectly orchestrated background synths. Lyrically, the track sets the story for the record’s murder-themed storyline (said to be inspired by Morrissey’s ‘Sister I’m A Poet’), before fading out into the immensely popular fan-favourite that almost certainly made the band’s name – the heart-wrenching, jealousy-inspired rock anthem ‘Mr. Brightside’. Named the ‘song of the decade’ by various UK radio stations and praised by some of the most famous international music publications, the track manages to beautifully capture everything there is to love about noughties alternative rock.
Taking a slight step back with the next track, ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ takes the form of a down-tempo, pop-infused masterpiece that doesn’t stray far from the sorrowful narrative of the record. Despite its miserable romanticism, the track remains upbeat with synth-backed guitar melodies reminiscent of early U2, putting a somewhat positive spin on it. Shortly after, ‘Somebody Told Me’ returns to the anthemic alt-dance sound that The Killers have mastered so effortlessly, with a slight electronic influence that sets it apart from the rest of the album and helps to push the band into star-status (a sound that follows later with the drum-heavy ‘Midnight Show’).
Slowing things down another notch, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ starts out in a ballad-esque fashion before a series of steady drums and sweeping guitar riffs take over, complimented by the unforgettable chorus of “I got soul but I’m not a solider…”. The track soon slows to a halt and progresses into the traditional indie rock effort ‘Andy, You’re A Star’, featuring some tranquil, Bowie-inspired vocal work. It’s not a particular highlight of the album, but it’s a sure indication that The Killers have a broad range of influences and talents within the band – evident again with a subtle nod to Duran Duran in the opening line of ‘On Top’ as it blends electronic influences with a hint of pop rock, followed by a slight Strokes mockery in the form of filler track ‘Change Your Mind’.
‘Believe Me Natalie’ brings back the combined new wave influences of The Cure, The Smiths and Joy Division in a deeply atmospheric and almost upbeat version of ‘The Same Deep Water As You’, complete with droning vocals and 80s-inspired guitars. Like any album, there are a number of tracks that fail to meet the standards of the fan favourites mentioned earlier, but that’s not to say that The Killers have failed within the last half of the record. The band maintains the infectious energy throughout all twelve tracks, and Flowers’ vocals are pretty much on point during every song.
As ‘Midnight Show’ fades out in an almost orchestral manner, his vocals progress into an eerie Robert Smith imitation for ‘Everything Will Be Alright’ before the album closes with one of the catchiest tracks on the release. ‘Glamourous Indie Rock And Roll’ takes the form of an anthemic stadium-rock effort, guaranteed to have fans clinging to Flowers’ every word with a drink in hand, doing just what this record does best – summarising the musical atmosphere of growing up in the noughties and solidifying its place as one of the best albums of the century so far.
Wonderful Wonderful will be released on September 22nd via Island Records.