The Killers: Sawdust

B

The Killers

Album: Sawdust
Label: Island

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It takes chutzpah to release a B-sides and rarities collection after putting out only two albums, especially when one of those albums can politely be called disappointing. But The Killers have never been short on chutzpah. Singer Brandon Flowers and the band traffic in the kind of over-the-top passion best put across by swelling synthesizers, ringing guitar, and heart-on-sleeve lyrics that only stop making sense if you think about them.

With last year's Sam's Town, the band attempted to hide what they do best beneath working-class flannel, so it makes sense that some of Sawdust's best moments are Sam's Town rejects that sound like they were discarded for sounding too much like Hot Fuss. "All The Pretty Faces," for one, sounds like the last hit single Fuss never produced, and on "Sweet Talk" and "Where The White Boys Dance," the band lets its love of synth-pop float to the top.

Though covers of Dire Straits' "Romeo And Juliet" and Joy Division's "Shadowplay" stick a little too close to their sources to develop any real personality (and it's best just to skip the country classic "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town"), there's a neat bit of hero worship on the newly recorded "Tranquilize." The band coaxes the most engaged vocal out of guest star Lou Reed that anyone's heard in years. If they can break him out of his perpetual grumping, it gets easier to forget about a misstep here and there.

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