The Killers (2.5 stars)
Hot Fuss couldn't be more appropriate a name for the Killers' debut album. The band's brief career, beginning with trudges through the abysmal Vegas live venue scene, has been highlighted by plenty of buzz. The group, born in Las Vegas but bred in its spiritual and musical home of Great Britain, has returned to the U.S. with its first full-length release, serving up their signature sound: an update of '80s synth-pop and '90s Brit-pop with a (pun alert) killer twist.
But, in contrast to their glammed-up shows, Hot Fuss leaves something to be desired. As a whole, it doesn't stand up to the energy of its three strongest tracks: "Somebody Told Me," "Mr. Brightside" and "Midnight Show." All showcase Mark Stoermer's John Taylor-style bass lines, Ronnie Vannucci's frenetic drumming, David Keuning's kinetic guitar lines and the pained, maudlin vocals of Brandon Flowers. Outside of that, the album often meanders through synth-heavy ballads, with "All These Things That I've Done" going so far as to include a gospel choir.
There's no denying the strength of their performance or songwriting prowess. But the Killers might have to be experienced in person to be appreciated; their act is all about showmanship, and though well-produced (over produced in the case of "All These Things"), the band's kinetic energy and the nascent androgynous sexual energy of frontman Flowers doesn't quite bleed through the speakers on Hot Fuss.