So, hands up who agrees with Brandon Flowers that his cult-band-gone-good are “the best band in a long time”? It’s been a topic of hot debate, with blogs treating Flowers’ claims with a tone of cautious sarcasm. Whether or not you agree, it’s undeniable that the Las Vegas foursome have clocked up some of their generation’s greatest tracks, so here’s a rundown of their best to help choose whose side you’ll take.
10 ‘Tranquilize ft. Lou Reed’
Heading up the band’s 2007 rarities collection, ‘Sawdust’, ‘Tranquilize’ enlists Lou Reed to beef out its rousing, spooky lullaby. Somewhere in there is a rare nod to the band’s faith and politics, too – hear those closing lines tremble on Flowers’ tongue: “We’re looking for a page in that lifeless book of hope/ Where a dream might help you cope/ With the Bushes and the bombs.”
9 ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’
‘Miss Atomic Bomb is the sound of the Killers revisiting old wounds and glossing them over in broad, glistening strokes. It’s also a prequel to their biggest hit, ‘Mr. Brightside’, even paying homage to its star-spangled riff at the 3.20 mark.
Brandon Flowers has mastered the vocal trick of sounding like Bruce Springsteen trapped in the body of a small boy looking for his mum in the supermarket, and on ‘Runaway’, he sounds at once more lost and more Bruce Springsteen than ever before. That’s a good thing.
7 ‘Read My Mind’
Perfect for watching the sun set behind a festival stage, ‘Read My Mind’ has that dizzying cocktail of euphoria and melancholy that Flowers and co brew up so well.
6 ‘For Reasons Unknown’
The unique thing about ‘For Reasons Unknown’ isn’t how or why it’s good, but where it’s good: ‘For Reasons Unknown’ is the only stadium indie banger in history that’s all about the transitions. Verse to pre-chorus, pre-chorus to chorus, it’s all magic, and as much as we love the payoff, the in-betweens are where it’s at.
5 ‘Somebody Told Me’
A decade after the gender deconstruction of Blur’s ‘Girls & Boys’, The Killers tapped into the same lyrical wellspring with this disco-fuelled celebration of androgyny. “Somebody told me you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year,” goes the chorus, and the moral of the story, to paraphrase Damo circa ‘95, is that when boys look like girls they get the girls who like boys. You follow?
4 ‘All These Things that I’ve Done’
‘All These Things that I’ve Done’ doesn’t get the love of its ‘Hot Fuss’ counterparts, with the common consensus being that anyone who remembers more than the “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” bit is probably already putting in bids on Brandon Flowers’ facial hair clippings. That couldn’t be further from the truth: listen again and watch as your heart swoons and soars.
3 ‘Jenny was a Friend of Mine’
Although never released as a single, anyone with two ears and a fondness for eyeliner-laden indie boys circa 2006 knew that ‘Jenny Was a Friend of Mine’ was where it was at. The ‘Hot Fuss’ opener leans hard on the Smiths’ ‘Barbarism Begins at Home’ – the basslines are so genetically similar they can’t legally marry – but ultimately leads the track somewhere cosmically beguiling.
2 ‘When You Were Young’
If this lead single from ‘Sam’s Town’ were any more heavily indebted to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ the authorities would have to get involved. As it is, the song aims for the stars with such belief and conviction not even the Boss himself would deny it status as a classic.
1 ‘Mr. Brightside’
Possibly the most fun anyone’s ever had imagining their girlfriend bang another dude, ‘Mr. Brightside’ is the Killers falling down a well of self-pity and finding everlasting redemption glittering in a puddle at the bottom. Just when you think it couldn’t lift you any higher, Flowers turns the crank in the chorus, retching out the “price I pay” line with such projectile pace it’s lodged in your memory forever.