We all know ‘Mr. Brightside’, the fist-pumping, jealously-infused track that’s perfect to sing at 2am when you’re wasted. But Vegas rockers The Killers have so much more to offer than just their smash hits. Pretty much every record is a gem, with tracks you ain’t gonna want to skip.
With six(ish) records under their belt, and another cooking in the oven, I decided to list The Killers’ albums, from their worst to their best. That’s not to say that some albums are bad. If anything, I personally love each and every one of their records; each one posing as a new chapter in the band’s long history.
With that in mind, Screen Streams have compiled a list of every Killers album, ranked from worst to best. Let’s get rockin’…
6. Battle Born
Listen, I love Battle Born. It’s filled with sick tracks like ‘Flesh and Bone’ (which I can never seem to get out of my head), and the heartstring-tugging ‘Here With Me’, how can you not love it? It’s got some teeth, this album. It’s infused with fighting spirit and anthem-fuelled tracks.
Having said that, ‘Battle Born’ has, in my eyes, the highest amount of filler out of any of their albums. It’s a little bit all over the place, which some tracks needing a little more oomph behind them. By the time you’re just over halfway through the album, a bit of fatigue seems to trickle in. It somehow manages to be incohesive and yet still a bit too same-y at exactly the same time.
Brandon’s voice still shines strong, though, and the unusual thematic nature still makes it a stellar listen. The nuances in the production are fantastic, too, from the subtle hints to the faint use of harps, it’s unique and catchy. It can still be belted out at stadiums, or sung by wannabe punk boys patching up their denim jackets.
I know, I know, not technically an album, as it’s mainly filled with B-sides and unreleased material, but I thought I’d give ‘Sawdust’ a little shoutout. While ranking it above ‘Battle Born’ may seem out-of-place, it’s purely because of the standout tracks on the record. ‘Under the Gun’, ‘Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf’ and ‘The Ballad of Michael Valentine’ are three of my all-time favourite Killers tracks, so it automatically gets a higher than usual place in this ranking.
My criticism of the album is an obvious one – it doesn’t really come with a point of view, and it doesn’t really feel as though it has anything to say. That’s a given, though, considering it’s a compilation album.
4. Wonderful Wonderful
‘Wonderful Wonderful’ is the band’s latest release, featuring the sass-infused ‘The Man’ aka the best song ever made to feel like a badass when you’re strutting through the town.
There’s also the thematically bizarre ‘Tyson vs Douglas’ – featuring the unusual concept of watching a fighter fall and having your dreams crash down around you. I mean, from what other band do you get songs like that? I also adore ‘Run For Cover’, with its sick upbeat tempo making it almost impossible not to tap your foot along to it. Brandon’s voice on this record is the rawest it’s ever been, and it makes the album shine because of it. It’s gut-punching, in the best way possible.
However, ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ has the opposite issue as ‘Battle Born’, for me. It’s a little bit too cohesive, where each song ends up blurring into one, making for an album that seems longer than it actually is. Similarly to ‘Battle Born’, the record doesn’t seem to push in any particular new direction. That’s fine, the band have found their niche and they’re comfortable in it, but sometimes the bigger the risk, the bigger the payoff.
That said, ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ is an album I come back to time and time again. The music is the perfect companion on a lonely night, for sunny bus rides and for summer road trips.
3. Day & Age
Oh ‘Day & Age’, how I love you so. From your weird mosaic album to cover to your songs about Cinderella in vandalised castles, you’re a true gem of a record. Third albums are typically a tricky one to navigate, with fans either getting bored or not interested in your new sound. The Killers juggle this battle perfectly.
This is exactly the type of risk that ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ was missing. After two albums filled with rock-like anthems, ‘Day & Age’ chooses to go in completely the opposite direction. It’s the most unique out of all of their albums – taking in Caribbean, pop, and New Wave influences – and it really leaves its mark on you once you’ve finished digesting the new sound. It’s wonderfully cohesive, with each track there for a reason as opposed to fill out a record.
‘Human’, ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ and ‘Spaceman’ are all heavenly, with obscure lyrics pushing ‘Day & Age’ as the Killers’ boldest album to date. It’s like Flowers had a Bowie-infused drug trip, and ‘Day & Age’ is what he spat out. And I am here for it.
2. Sam’s Town
‘Sam’s Town’ is a masterpiece, quite simply. It perfectly encapsulates feelings of youth, hope, hopelessness, joy and desperation, all tied up in 12 tracks.
The visit to ‘Sam’s Town’ is one you won’t want to end, with Brandon stating: “We hope you enjoy your stay / It’s good to have you with us even if it’s just for the day” as the album’s opening track. Is it a little on the nose? Yes. Do I care? Hell no. ‘Sam’s Town’ is filled from start to finish with tracks that you can’t skip, it’s just that good. ‘For Reasons Unknown’ punches you in the gut with Flowers’ melancholy voice, ‘Read My Mind’ is ridiculously catchy and ‘When You Were Young’ should always be in your summer playlist.
‘Sam’s Town’ has substance, it has style and, more importantly, it has something to say. While the tunes may not be quite as repeatable as ‘Mr. Brightside’ or ‘Human’, the piece as a whole is a stellar work of art, and it’ll forever go down as one of The Killers’ best entries in their discography.
It actually pains me to rank this album as #2, to be honest. But the #1 Killers album is so good, I had no other choice.
And the winner is… ( I mean, it’s obvious if you’ve been paying attention…)
1. Hot Fuss
‘Hot Fuss’ is one of the best albums ever created. I’m not even joking. It’s pure magic, captured by the Vegas quartet and shoved onto a CD.
It’s probably the most rock-infused of their records, but it’s still got that unique Killers charisma that we all know and love. ‘Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll’ is the title of one of the tracks, and it’s a title that sums up the record perfectly. It’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s cheeky, yet it’s steeped in darkness, disguised thinly through a veil of glam.
It features the obvious ‘Mr. Brightside’, their biggest hit to date (it spent 212 weeks in the hot 100!), which you can put on anywhere and have crowds singing the lyrics with you. There’s also ‘Somebody Told Me’, which is filled with so much energy and zest. ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ captures a glimpse at another side of The Killers, a side with substance and style. And then there’s ‘Everything Will Be Alright’, the perfect tune to belt out while you’re drinking your sorrows away.
‘Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine’ is one of my favourite opening tracks on any album… like, ever. Sticking the opening track on your debut album about a boy being questioned for a girl’s murder? It’s genius. The opening noise (a possible helicopter, searching for Jenny’s body?), the painful “she couldn’t scream while I held her close”, the faux-British accent… all of it’s so unique, yet so, so good.
‘Hot Fuss’ is such an adaptable album, fit for any given situation. It works to lift you up, it works to help you feel sadness and pain. It’s relatable and human; while not taking itself too seriously. Each track blends into one another magically, building layers upon layers upon its prior entries. The atmosphere ‘Hot Fuss’ creates is electric.
Might I be viewing the record through nostalgia-tinted glasses? Perhaps. We all have memories of ‘Mr. Brightside’, whether it be in a bar or at a gig (for me, it’s baking a cake with best pal while throwing flour over each other, dramatically screaming the lyrics). The same with ‘Jenny’ – I remember driving with my brother through rainy streets with fogged up windows, listening to the track for the first time, being baffled at how a band was singing about murder. It was so unusual to hear, but from that day The Killers grabbed me with both hands, forced me to listen, and I’ve never looked back since.
What do you think, Victims? Do you think ‘Hot Fuss’ deserved to take the number one spot, or would you have preferred something other than their debut to take the crown? Let me know in the comments below!
Or, for more on music, stalk my music listening habits and see how many times I’ve listened to The Killers, or check out my review of Marina’s latest release, ‘Love + Fear’.