The Peter Principle says that people tend to be promoted to their level of incompetence. The Killers are pop music's most recent victims of the truism. Of course, the band deserves a good chunk of blame for the sea of unreasonable responsibilities it's currently wading in (frontman Brandon Flowers did promise that Hot Fuss' follow-up would be the best album in the past two decades), but fans, critics, and anyone else who's bandied about names like Bono, Bruce, and Bowie alongside Brandon's are equally guilty. Since when is a band that sang, "Well somebody told me / You had a boyfriend / Who looked like a girlfriend / That I had in February of last year" allowed to nominate itself for Most Important Band On The Planet? Has anybody bought into the idea that this could actually happen, or is everyone just letting The Killers build themselves up to make sure the splat on the way down is as loud as possible?
Wait, don't answer that—it really isn't worth discussing. What is worth talking about is that on Sam's Town—as on Hot Fuss—The Killers have created a batch of easily digestible pop songs that would be disposable if they weren't so catchy; in other words, they've more or less done their job. Sure, it would be nice if the hooks were sharper, and if songs other than "When You Were Young" could approach "Mr. Brightside"-like enormity, but overall, Sam's Town stays the course the way a sophomore-album-after-a-surprise-hit-debut should. (Those looking for a departure will have to wait for album three—see Radiohead and The Strokes for varying results.) It's appropriate that Sam's Town was recorded at and got its name from a pair of casinos, where things are easy come, easy go, yet return trips are often planned on the way out of town. Those who don't enter Sam's Town with inflated expectations will find it's a pretty fun place to spend some time.