WORDS: KATIE CONWAY-FLOOD
From the fabulous land of Las Vegas, Nevada to glittering global hitmakers The Killers have become one of the biggest bands around in 21st century rock. Placing all their betting chips upon the table back in 2001 on the bands electro meets indie-rock roots was a ballsy bet for these breakout sin city outcasts, one in which when vocalist Brandon Flowers, guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and percussionist Ronnie Vanucci rolled the dice these synth-pop dazzlers hit the music jackpot.
Rising to fame with the release of their definitive debut record Hot Fuss, a stylish anthem filled first full length that surfaced from the dusky desert back 2004. Boasting singles such as the groovy ‘Somebody Told Me’ and the gloomy ‘Smile Like You Mean It’, it was the band’s demo of grandiose lead single ‘Mr. Brightside’ and the subsequent signing to Lizard King Records in London after relentless rejects from US record labels that suddenly sent The Killers into breaking out as one of the best British bands to hail from American soil.
HOT FUSS KICKED UP A FUSS ON THIS SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, AND THE KILLERS SENT THE UK INTO A HIVE OF HYSTERIA THROUGHOUT A TIME OF TRIUMPH FOR THE ALTERNATIVE ROCK SCENE
As a result Hot Fuss kicked up a fuss on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, and The Killers sent the UK into a hive of hysteria throughout a time of triumph for the alternative rock scene. With the albums by large British influences including The Libertines and The Pet Shop Boys balanced by the lack of the Las Vegas inspiration was what found this four piece success in UK music charts. The record rapidly rose to the number one spot and continues to dominate the best selling albums of the decade list to this date, despite the debut effort merely peaking at the number seven position in similar charts back home for the band.
The Killers grew up on a steady diet of British born music, therefore musically the melancholy that makes up the sound found on Hot Fuss had a mass appeal in the UK, something the US didn’t quite tap into in the case of The Killers at the time. Single ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ speaks as the strongest moment for such a sound, matching whirring guitars and soaring synthesisers to symbolise this sense of upbeat misery, something that wouldn’t be out of place on The Smiths discography.
Deeper into the album the sonic hybrids on Hot Fuss continue to expand beyond the above. Merging a British style of alt rock with Razorlight esque indie and new wave music not too dissimilar to that of New Order’s material made for a distinct sound that had a euphoric style, something a non single fan favourite ‘Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll’ captured in UK music culture.
WITH ITS BRITISH ALTERNATIVE STYLE OF ROCK, MIXED WITH ITS MAINSTREAM ATTRACTIVENESS TO ALLURE AN ERA OF REMINISCENT MUSIC ENTHUSIASTS WITH ITS CAPTIVATING SONGWRITING AND SOUND, STILL THE RECORD REMAINS A STANDOUT
Simultaneously the songwriting influence instigated off the back of Brandon Flowers’ first hand experience of an Oasis gig on Hot Fuss proves to be as prominent as the soundscape of the studio LP. It’s hard to mention Hot Fuss without lead single ‘Mr. Brightside’, an iconic tune that transcends generations hankering after a hint of hope and nostalgia all stemmed from the personal perspective of Flowers. “Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine” boasts Brightside’s structurally simplistic and instantly recognisable fuzzed guitar intro, one in which beckons for the brokenhearted and the betrayed to relish in this irreplaceable masterpiece’s relatable subject matter, whether that be in front of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury or getting down to the tune at an emo night in London.
Elsewhere the songwriting still stands just as influentially tall on tracks ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’. The first, ‘Somebody Told Me’ is a UK indie number one that shares similarities with ‘Mr. Brightside’ on the basis that it smiles directly in the face of romantic adversities and as a result, dreams of the past yet desires the future with that wicked one liner “Somebody told me you had a boyfriend/Who looked like a girlfriend/That I had in February of last year”. The second, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ inspired by the spirit of U2’s comeback album nods to Brandon’s religious struggles but in a broader context rallies the downbeaten troops of society to see their self worth with the lyric line “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier”, something where this sense of melodrama massively attributed to Brit bands Depeche Mode and The Cure’s material which made waves for these Vegas natives across the pond.
At a time where The Killers’ inspirations were making a comeback in the middle of the 20th century UK music scene, the band mirrored such success in such a place with Hot Fuss. With its British alternative style of rock, mixed with its mainstream attractiveness to allure an era of reminiscent music enthusiasts with its captivating songwriting and sound, still the record remains a standout.
Now inflicting their musical legacy onto the next batch of alternative rock bands, from Blossoms to Catfish And The Bottlemen and after many abrupt stylistic shifts over sixteen years The Killers now have a blistering back catalogue of five formidable albums under the bands belt, but in hindsight there is nothing and never will be anything quite like the impact and influence Hot Fuss has in the case of The Killers.