When Sam’s Town came out, it had something of a mixed reception by fans, being seen as inferior to Hot Fuss. The likes of Rolling Stone magazine panned the album with a two-star rating. However, it didn’t take too long for the album to be reassessed and seen as another great work from a great band.
Perhaps the most affecting thing for Killers’ fans back then was how different the album sounded from Hot Fuss. That great album was more of a straight forward attempt at pop rock, meanwhile Sam’s Town is more interested in giving a weird blend of sounds. It’s mostly pop rock with a touch of the electronic, with everything played up to eleven. Take for example, “Bones”, one of the singles from the album that had its video directed by Tim Burton; it’s operatic and thrilling, a potent rock piece with use of synthesizers and a choir. It’s not such a stretch from a song like “Everything will be alright” from the previous album, but here, The Killers play things broadly. It seemed like too much at the time, but now that we have grown used to this effort, one can appreciate The Killers having fun and experimenting here.
Also, perhaps another surprise was the Sam’s Town’s more seemingly personal touch. Hot Fuss dealt with its themes in a more general way. That doesn’t make it any less personal, but something about Sam’s Town just feels like Brandon Flowers putting himself out there. There’s a certain naïveté to the lyrics, fitting for the themes of nostalgia throughout the album. There’s a certain sincerity that may strike some as clumsy, but that’s the point.
The album has won many fans ever since, with many seeing it as some of their best work if not their best. It is true that often bands suffer something of a sophomore slump, and that can be seen as their failing but this is one of the occasions where the failing was on the fans’ part. But now many have changed their mind and as the fans get older, I wouldn’t be surprised if they connected even further with the album.
If you haven’t given it a listen, you can do so here.