22
Sep
08

They’re Killing Me: The Killers’ New Single

I’ve just gotten a hold of The Killers’ new single Human off of their forthcoming third LP Day and Age. After their sophomore effort of Sam’s Town, I was hugely disappointed, but like an abused lover, I keep coming back to Brandon Flowers and Co. Maybe it’s because their first album meant so much to me at the time of its release and reminds me of relatively good times. Maybe I can’t forget the excitement of seeing and hearing The Killers for the first time on British television in the spring of 2004 and the subsequent excitement when I saw them in a ridiculously tiny venue in Winnipeg that fall. Maybe I’m waiting for another flash of brilliance like All These Things That I’ve Done. Maybe I’m just a masochist.

Despite the rather expansive nature and catchiness of When You Were Young, Sam’s Town was The Killers doing Bruce Springsteen and consciously shifting from anglophilia to Americana, Colonel Sanders ties and all. This move may have lost them some of their old fans and it may very well have gained them new ones and further visibility. They lost me – not only do I obviously prefer British sensibilities in music, but I also felt the inevitable shift in attitude because of fame. No, I do not want to pay a ridiculous amount of money to become a Victim (what those in The Killers’ fan club are called – appropriate in so many ways). No, I don’t want to purchase a b-sides album when I was already ripped off for a few of those b-sides when I bought the special edition of Hot Fuss after I already had the original release – that duet with Lou Reed and lukewarm cover of Shadowplay (though at least the cover brought them back to a British sound) didn’t entice me. All of it smelled rather strongly of record label interference and money-grabbing. I became so disenchanted that I just began ignoring the band and unsubscribed to their e-newsletter. Then I heard that they would be releasing a new album this year. So, I began hoping again that maybe, just maybe, things would be different this time because they promised.

I downloaded Human as quick as, well, humanly possible and took a listen. Granted this is just my humble first impression. And granted, this single may not reflect the entire album as a whole. But I don’t get Human. It feels like a relatively decent electropop track that is spoiled by Flowers’ vocals – they’re slightly folky/country and limply out of step with the pumping synthesizers. It’s like putting Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash on the mic while Cut Copy or Pet Shop Boys plays the background. When I later looked the song up on Wikipedia, it seems that the band was gunning for exactly that effect – in fact Flowers makes the analogy of Johnny Cash meets the Pet Shop Boys, so at least I know my music compass isn’t off. And now I also know that The Killers are doing this on purpose, which makes me feel less hopeful about the forthcoming album release. The inexplicable refrain of “Are we human, or are we dancer?” doesn’t seem particularly clever even though the song’s concept had potential as commentary on the fragility of the human condition.
I’m trying to figure out just what could improve the song and make it more palatable – maybe a different singing style more in line with the staccato style of songs off Hot Fuss; maybe more vocoder; or maybe no vocal at all. The clash of musical styles may have been experimental, so I give The Killers kudos for trying, but the results don’t work for me. While the attempt is made for some spiritual searching like that in All These Things That I’ve Done, it just doesn’t edify me in remotely the same way. It’s like the band is trying to mash up their first two albums into one style to have the best of both worlds or to have their eyeliner and their moustaches too. That’s Freddie Mercury and that’s just presumptuousness. Or maybe they’re just confused as I am at this moment.
Time will tell whether this song will ever grow on me or whether the next album will actually be better than this song suggests. You can judge Human for yourself by downloading it below. Knowing me, I’ll drag my broken body back to them again for more abuse before I completely give up. Maybe The Killers will be kind enough to finish me off this time.

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3 Responses to “They’re Killing Me: The Killers’ New Single”


  1. 1 Rol
    September 23, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Obviously I come at The Killers from a completely different direction from you as I love both The Smiths AND Springsteen, so the move from one to the other between their first and second album was well-received in these parts.

    That said, not sure what I make of the new one. I need to give it a few more listens to see if it works. Then again, I like both JC and the PSBs too, so it could work…

  2. 2 King Doug
    September 24, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Can’t say I’ve ever really been a fan of The Killers anyway, mainly because his vocals really grate with me. They had a couple of decent songs on Hot Fuss, but seeing how weak his voice is in a live context put me off them a lot, so I’m not surprised you’re finding his vocals off-putting on this track.

  3. 3 zooey
    September 25, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    No way, human is amazing.


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There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

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So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

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Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

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Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

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They've come to chop, to chop off your head

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Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

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Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

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Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

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You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

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I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

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You'll never do what common people do

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You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

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Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

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Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

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I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Eyeholes in a paper bag

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When you go home down the main

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When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

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Modern times

Valentines

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Girls in the back

Girls in the back

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They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

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Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

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Sell out, maintain the interest

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Going round in a circle I can't get out

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Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

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They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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