First of all, The Killers was probably the first indie band that I was really into, so obviously it's such an important moment when they come back with their third studio album. But, being a huge fan of their earlier work, specially Hot Fuss, I'm a bit disappointed with the new album.
On one side, they stepped back a little bit from the arena rock style of Sam's Town, and incorporated more elements of their debut, which was a nice movement, especially because the U2 inspired Sam's Town pissed a lot of people. Plus they expanded their sound, having different rhythms such as salsa, samba and afro beats. They are an ambitious band and pay close attention to what's going on the pop world. Thus, they write a chorus a la MGMT ("Neon Tiger") and incorporate African influences like Vampire weekend did ("This is your life"). The final result is a record with a lot of different sides, one that shows a band with a strong will to grow. How can someone be pissed by things like that? No wonder, most reviews have been positive. The killers became very mature, everyone says. But I say there's no real passion here.
Yes, it's true that most reviews have been positive, but no one is really saying that this is the album of the year or something like that. Why? Simply because it's not! It's not even close. Sure they show a lot of faces, but the final product is more like a collection of songs than an album. There's too much variation. They don't show exactly what they want to be. Trying to be different things, the band manages to be almost nothing.
Another problem is the lack of guitars in the record. At many points, everything seems too slow, too pop, too... Coldplay! This is not necessarily a bad thing if you like Coldplay, but isn't having Keane bad (good?) enough?
Not everything is bad news, thought. The best moment is easily "Spaceman". With a great chorus and high speed, this is one of the greatest tracks of the year. Lead single "Human" delivers a very nice dance feeling and, even thought it could be faster, it's almost instant pleasure. A plus here is the non sense phrase "Are we human or are we dancer?". The simple fact that a lot of people cared about the meaning of this makes it pretty cool. "Neon Tiger" is sure a bit weird and may not please in the first listen but it grows a lot on you once you give it enough time. It has the potential to become a very good single.
"A Dustland Fairytale" revisits Sam's Town being one of the best songs in the first listen, but even after sometime listening to it, I still think it's a good song. "Losing Touch" is a bit slow and has some weird instruments. It's not a bad song but it sounds so small compared to their past works. Finally, bonus track "A Crippling Blow" is one of the best surprises. How could this be out of the album if it's better than half of the tracks?
Songs like "Good night, travel well" and "Joy Ride" are simply horrible and it can be a challenge to hear them more than once. "The world we live in" and "I can't stay" are not bad, but are easily forgettable and it's hard to see how can they could be better than the tracks in Sawdust. More or less the same is true for "This is your life". With an afro beat that reminds me of The Lion King, this could fit in a Disney movie but common! We're talking about The Killers here!
My grades for each track: (out of 10):
Losing Touch 7
Joy Ride 3
A Dustland Fairytale 7.5
This Is Your Life 5.5
I Can't Stay 5
Neon Tiger 8
The World We Live In 5.5
Goodnight, Travel Well 2
A Crippling Blow 6.5
Forget About What I said 5.5
To sum up, there is an outstanding single ("Spaceman"), two very good songs ("Human" and "Neon Tiger") and more two or three good songs. Thus I would say that they released an album that is half good, half very bad.
So what's the big deal? Many bands around don't have even half an album that is good right? Yes, that's right, Day & Age is tolerable, but it's still far behind their previous stuff...
Final grade: 6 (out of 10)