Music » Critics' Picks

The Killers

Monday, September 13; Mississippi Nights

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The Killers are hardly the only current band attempting to stay new while riding the garage-rock bandwagon. The latest revolution of the music-business cycle has spun out a slew of groups, from Interpol to the Rapture, that draw their inspiration from '80s-era British acts whose style and substance were often indistinguishable from one another. It's no surprise, then, that the press in England has gotten overheated about Hot Fuss, the Killers' debut platter. The resultant buzz convinced MTV to start airing the video for the Fuss track "Somebody Told Me," which couldn't seem more like stuff the network aired two decades ago if it included cameos by Martha Quinn and Nina Blackwood.

It's too soon to tell if the U.S. version of Fuss, released in June on the Island imprint, will set stateside cash registers ablaze, but the disc is unpretentious enough to give it a chance. Whereas some groups on the Killers' wavelength feign innovation so strenuously that their borrowings lose their amusement value, these boys just want to have fun emulating the ditties that entranced them in their youth. "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" kicks off with helicopter effects and a hearty "whooo!" before evolving into a head-bopping groover that's pure Robert Smith, whereas "On Top" declares its allegiance to Duran Duran in its first line: "Remember Rio and get down."

As for those originality questions that keep cropping up, drummer Ronnie Vannucci claims not to be bothered in the slightest. "We're being compared to some of the best bands that there've ever been, in my opinion," he says. "There's a lot worse things than that."

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