Wed, Nov 21, 2007 (6:43 p.m.)
Okay, let’s get it out of the way, so we can all stop snickering and focus. The Killers, a band with precisely two albums to their name, have released a rarities set, which will strike most either as extremely silly, sorta money hungry or further evidence that the Vegas foursome takes itself a wee bit too seriously.
Having said that, Sawdust actually makes surprising sense. Though probably only 13-year-old girls with Brandon Flowers plastering their lockers have bothered to notice, The Killers have amassed a heaping pile of nonalbum material in their short run as rock stars, so much so that their third disc actually runs far longer than either of its predecessors, weighing in at a robust 18 tracks (one hidden) totaling some 72 minutes.
Does it make for a cohesive listen? Of course not, but what ephemera compilation—apart from, perhaps, The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs—ever has? As its sappy-yet-sweet “This album is dedicated to our fans” liner-note inscription affirms, Sawdust screams diehard, and such serious Killerites will welcome its all-in-one-place roundup of B-sides, live-in-studio cuts and previously unheard outtakes with squeals of unmitigated glee.
Even so, casual Killers appreciators ought not dismiss it out of hand. Several tunes—pulsating shoulda-been-on-Sam’s Town leftover “All the Pretty Faces”; a slick re-recording of Hot Fuss UK-only number “Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll”; and, most notably, new composition “Tranquilize,” which effectively marries shadowy guest vocals from Lou Reed (yeah, that Lou Reed) and rosy choruses of young ’uns—are well worth hearing, even if some of the others (here’s looking at you, not-nearly-sinister-enough Joy Division cover “Shadowplay”) aren’t.
To summarize, if you’re the sort of completist who needs to own Jacques LuCont’s nine-minute “Thin White Duke Remix” of “Mr. Brightside” to sleep soundly, buy Sawdust this very instant. For everyone else, prudent iTunes sampling and per-song purchasing should help ensure you’re not the one being snickered at tomorrow.