The Killers - Hot Fuss (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Killers

Hot Fuss (2004)


The late media historian/critic Marshall McLuhan divided the entire spectrum of media into two approximate categories. The first was what he called "hot media" that is, things like books and newspapers were automatically in this category, while television and music would qualify as "cool media." He explained that the caveat was that a person on TV could be hot or cool as well, and the public would respond better to "cool" people. Like, for example, he said that JFK was successful in making Nixon look foolish because he understood television and how to be "cool." What does this have to do with the Killers, you ask?

Well, the Killers personify this McLuhan-esque idea of "cool." The band plays themselves as irreverently cool, down to the hipster clothing, the affected faux-British accent and carefully preened, but nonetheless messy haircuts. Were they any other band, and less capable as musicians and songwriters, I'd find them incredibly dull, pretentious and overly image conscious.

But while they are pretentious and image conscious, they are certainly not dull; the truth is, these guys are capable of writing some incredibly catchy and energetic songs. Shamelessly taking cues from mainstream 80s icons like The Cure and Joy Division as well as 90s stalwarts like Blur and Pulp and simultaneously injecting a blast of recent garage rock, the band should sound like a bad Time Life retrospective. Instead, tracks like "Mr.Brightside" come off so earnestly that you can't help but find yourself enjoying it.

Unlike other eighties-influenced bands like the Rapture, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand, the band seems more concerned with writing songs than playing up their retro-influence for irony, and with a few minor exceptions, this attention to songwriting pervades the entire disc. I admit that the band loses some points for the down tempo tracks which lack energy, but more importantly, lack the hooks on the more rousing tracks.

The truth is, the image, the attitude and the accent should annoy the living hell out of me, and in spite of the fact that I vaguely picture the band running around a pier with the sleeves of their sports coats rolled up, this band has a great blend of hooks, wit and rock and roll. It's difficult not to be caught in the fuss.