2006: The Killers - “When You Were Young”

Of all the early 2000s bands that decided to mine the anthemic sounds of Bruce Springsteen, The Killers were the most dubious. Two years after their breakout debut, Hot Fuss, the once glammed-up synth-pop boys who brought us “Mr. Brightside” started sporting beards and including guitar, lots of guitar (!), on their sophomore effort, Sam’s Town. Could anyone be blamed for thinking The Killers were big-time poseurs? No, I don’t think so. For bands riding high on debuts associated with the New Wave, post-punk, and synth-pop revivals (think Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, etc.), that second album needed to show the haters that they were here to stay. When it came to Brandon Flowers and company, they took the blueprint of their signature, albeit vapid, anthem, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” turned it up to 11, and hit record 12 times. The resulting album is as mixed as their debut, but Sam’s Town comes off as the lesser record because of the kitschy, overblown “America” theme that’s right out of a conservative think tank.

The singles are okay, rarely reaching the heights of their biggest tracks. The one exception, however, is the lead single, “When You Were Young.” If I were to recommend any Killers track as proof that they’re not completely worthless, it would be this one. For a band trying their hardest to make an album of anthems, they got at least one down pat. The guitars are blown-out and epic, the drums crashing and on-point, and we get Brandon Flowers babbling about “the devil’s water.” The end result is more Meat Loaf than pure Boss, but that overblown quality is what makes this one work so well. When you’re trying to get to the level of Springsteen, why not overshoot and try to outdo him at his own game?

In the decade-plus since Sam’s Town’s release, followed by two subsequent releases, the underrated Day & Age and the blasé Battle Born, The Killers are still at it, with a new record on the way in 2017. “When You Were Young” won’t be remembered on the level of “Born to Run,” but it’s one of their best songs that ought to inspire a new generation of kids to pick up a guitar and rock the fuck out. It’s also a reminder that The Killers, who’ve spent the last 10 years riding down the middle of the road, are capable of crafting something great.

DeLorean

There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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