Newest Review: ... in the USA. Hot Fuss was the band's debut album and came out in 2004. In fairness to me, it's easy to see why I thought they were a Brit... more
It's definitely Indie rock and roll for me... (with some synth for good measure)
Hot Fuss - The Killers
Member Name: DonPaolo
Hot Fuss - The Killers
Date: 21/02/12, updated on 21/02/12 (115 review reads)
Advantages: Energetic, exciting, fresh, original, featuring festival anthems and Indie floor-fillers
Disadvantages: Very few - there are 'album tracks', but even those are pretty strong!
@@@ Introduction - "What's all the Fuss about?" @@@
Released in June 2004, Hot Fuss was the debut album by The Killers, a 4-piece rock band from 'Fabulous' Las Vegas, Nevada. It was released to widespread acclaim, and reached Number 1 in the UK album charts, with a number of successful singles.
On a personal note, this album became one of the soundtracks to my first year of University. Hit singles 'Mr Brightside', 'Somebody Told Me' and 'Smile Like You Mean It' were among the most commonly heard tracks in the student bars and clubs in 2004 and 2005...
@@@ Thank you, Jools... @@@
I'd like to start my review by thanking Jools Holland. Now, Jools plays a mean boogie-woogie piano, but that's not why I'm so grateful to him. His TV program "Later..." has long been a source of inspiration and a great showcase for upcoming talent. In recent years the show has introduced me to some fantastic new bands, including, at some time in late 2003, 'The Killers'. At the time they were totally unknown to me, and appeared on the show performing their single 'Mr Brightside'. It was a solid performance, with the band showing great energy; the song was catchy and seemed fresh, whilst still having some retro charm about it. I was massively impressed, so thanks again Jools!
Over the coming months, 'Mr Brightside' got a lot of airplay, and by the time the album 'Hot Fuss' was released the following June, I was one of many budding fans who were keen to get hold of it...
@@@ Track by Track... @@@
1 - "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine"
"Jenny was a Friend of Mine" is a confident opener to the album, and gets proceedings going with a bang. It begins with a brilliant bass guitar riff, which is very reminiscent of the riff in Gary Numan's "Music for Chameleons", albeit with a darker mood. This track is early evidence of the influence that Numan, along with other 80s synth and electronica groups, had on The Killers, and this is abundantly clear throughout the whole album. The song itself is very emotionally charged, with an interesting story to it - it actually forms part of an informal 'trilogy' referred to as the "Murder Trilogy" with the other two tracks "Midnight Show" (featured later on this album) and "Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf", (featured on 'Sawdust', a Compilation of B-sides and rarities by the band).
2 - "Mr Brightside"
The single "Mr Brightside" is probably the best known from the album, and has become recognised as a modern Indie classic. It's also one of my personal favourite songs of all time. The energy and passion of the song, along with its pacey drums and synthesised sound come together to create an iconic club song which you can't help but dance along to and belt out at the top of your voice. Once again, it's the darker themes and emotionally charged lyrics which make this track stand out - there are ideas of suspicion and obsession that resonate with people, and make for a great sing-along chorus. It doesn't hurt that the synth and guitars sound so flippin' catchy either!
3 - "Smile Like You Mean It"
And still the great songs keep coming! The 80s influences are still shining through; yet another great retro organ riff dominates in "Smile Like You Mean It". The rest of the track is given real substance by great guitar, driving bass and solid percussion backing, which works fantastically when they all come together. The vocals start in a relatively plain and monotone fashion, but they do build and change as the track progresses - another great tune.
4 - "Somebody Told Me"
The Killers really are relentless! After the slightly slowed pace of the previous track, "Somebody Told Me" explodes onto the scene to attain instant 'anthem' status. Beginning with raw guitar chords, followed by another heavy synth riff, this is an up-tempo, frantic track. It's great energy and curious but infectious lyrics make it another massively popular and catchy song. I could not possibly guess the number of times I heard this track while on a University night out, and it is still a staple of Indie music venues today. Sheer brilliance!
5 - "All These Things That I've Done"
From the opening of "All These Things That I've Done", the band provides a solid stage which allows Brandon Flowers' lead vocals to well and truly take the spotlight. The track doesn't have the same club-style sound of several of the opening four tracks, and the synthesisers take a back seat here almost entirely, but there is yet another catchy chorus! The building drums imply a crescendo is coming, and when it does, the song opens up with a great festival-friendly refrain: "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier". This is undoubtedly one of the album's strongest tracks, and demonstrates the band's real skill in creating a song worthy of a much more mature and established band.
6 - "Andy, You're a Star"
Finally, a chance to catch your breath! "Andy, You're a Star" is a significant shift in pace for the album, with much more subdued guitars and slower backing. It has the same emotional draw of some of the previous tracks, but its slightly distorted vocals give it a very different feel. It is perfectly placed to break up the album, and showcase a different facet to the band's sound.
7 - "On Top"
"On Top" is one of the few songs on the album which has a less defined narrative to it. However, the lyrics still have an unusual and poetic quality which I really like. It is slightly slower paced, but does build towards the middle and end, with the guitars and synthesiser combining well yet again. This track alone is a great example of the way The Killers have combined their 80's electronica and new-wave influences with more modern guitar-led Indie music. Another really strong track overall.
8 - "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll"
Although not one of the most played tracks on the album, this is one of my favourites, and a very popular song for live performances. "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll" begins with quite sharp, distorted vocals and a slow pace again but reaches the crest of a wave with the chorus. This song doesn't follow the traditional "verse - chorus - verse - chorus" structure, and has a couple of big crescendos and changes of speed. The fantastic vocals taking centre stage, and this is yet another song with great 'anthem' potential to really get the crowd singing along.
9 - "Believe Me, Natalie"
The lengthy instrumental at the start of "Believe Me Natalie" allows the rest of the band a little more time in the spotlight before the vocals kick in. This is a slower track, with a darker sound to some of its predecessors. Whilst performed with the same passion and vigour by the band and especially by Flowers vocally, this song doesn't have the same appeal as the others. It's still a solid album track, but lacks the real charisma of much of the rest of the album.
10 - "Midnight Show"
"Midnight Show" blasts straight into action with a quick and jumpy pace. It forms part of the informal 'Murder Trilogy' of songs I mentioned earlier, and has an interesting if creepy narrative to it. Once again it's performed with a lot of energy, and although it could be considered as an 'album track', it has it does have its own appeal. In terms of sound, the synths take a back seat again - this tune is dominated by drums, bass and guitar (including a decent helping of some good riffs).
11 - "Everything Will Be Alright"
The final track of 'Hot Fuss' is not a barnstorming finale. Whilst I was initially disappointed by this fact, "Everything Will Be Alright" is a track which I really enjoy, and one which fits well as an album closer. The softer, slower pace of this song brings a frenetic and exciting album to a more relaxed close. It adds to the variety of the album as a whole, taking another break from the club-style rhythms, edgy guitars and jagged electro beats of earlier tracks. The vocals are once again passionately performed, and this is also a strong track musically.
@@@ Cost... @@@
You should be able to pick up this album for around £5 now, which is an absolute steal! However, do be aware that there are a couple of different versions available with slightly differing track lists and the option of bonus songs.
@@@ Overall Thoughts... @@@
This is an emotionally-fuelled, energetic, and musically intense album. It features infectious Indie "floor-fillers" and brilliant festival anthems in equal measure, and even the 'album tracks' have great appeal. Spawning several massive singles, including some true modern classics, "Hot Fuss" is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the last 10 years.
- - - Influences...
It is abundantly clear throughout 'Hot Fuss', that The Killers were very strongly influenced by 80's synth and electronica artists, as well as some 'New Wave' music. There are echoes of Gary Numan, as I've mentioned, but also the likes of New Order and Joy Division, and even a bit of The Pet Shop Boys in here. However, despite these influences, the album does not sound dated over familiar. What the band managed to do was to create a fresh and original sound, by adding the guitar-led Indie rock element, which gave more substance to the electronic side of their music.
- - - Prospects...
As a debut album, 'Hot Fuss' is extremely strong. The Killers really burst on to the music scene with style, and I don't need to point out how successful they have become since this was released back in 2004. Even at such an early stage, their star quality was crystal clear - they brought a unique and appealing sound which fused several musical styles with great success. As a group, they show a real knack for catchy lyrics and instantly memorable riffs, but above all it is the confidence and charisma (especially that of front man Brandon Flowers) which sets them apart.
In the time since 'Hot Fuss', there have been 2 very successful follow up albums (as well as a B-sides and rarities compilation) and numerous incredible liver performances, followed by an extended hiatus. The Killers' musical style has evolved, but they maintain that class and ability in all of their music, and I hope isn't too long before we see them again. I'm sure they will continue to produce brilliant music, but it will take something very special indeed to surpass this debut.
I'm also on Ciao :)
Summary: An incredible debut by a very exciting band who have gone on to become true stars