Sam's Town better than Hot Fuss? Maybe.


14 Oct 2006, 17:29

So, when I first bought my copy of Sam's Town last week and popped it in my CD player, I had the highest of highest expectations for this to be a great album. The Killers debut album Hot Fuss was probably my most listened to album in the past two years. Anything less than the impact of "Hot Fuss" to me would have been a disappointment for "Sam's Town".

Now, the only song I had initially heard before buying "Sam's Town" was their first single "When You Were Young". Honestly, when I first heard it on the radio I thought "Are these guys serious?". The lyrics had an overall different direction than anything on "Hot Fuss" and seemed a little too grandiose. It took probably five or so spins for me to gradually get sucked in by the song and start hollaring "he doesn't look a thing like Jesus" with Brandon in my car. This is what I noticed with the rest of the songs on "Sam's Town". There isn't one song on the album that hits you at first and you immediately think #1 hit right here, like I had done before for "Mr. Brightside". That isn't such a bad thing, though. I have a feeling a lot of critics listened to "Sam's Town" one time through and probably bashed it once they didn't heard nothing similar to "Hot Fuss". Trust me, if I had written this review after my first listen through, I probably would have been with them in their negative assessment of “Sam’s Town”.

So now, almost a week after it's release and countless listens in my iPod, I am going to make my proclamation: SAM'S TOWN IS JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER THAN HOT FUSS.

Sam's Town (5/5) Starts off the album with a huge BANG. I love it when the synth plays in the background with the guitar rifts over it at 0:30 and 1:45 into the song. Great chorus, and of course the great anthem at the end screaming “I see London, I see Sam’s Town”. This should be the 2nd single of the album, unfortunately it’s “Bones”.

When You Were Young (4.5/5) Another great song with a great chorus. It took me a while for me to liken up to the song, but I now realize that it was probably the best crossover song to be the first single off the album. I was never motivated by the lyrics though, like “can we climb this mountain, I don’t know, higher now than ever before”. Brandon’s voice and the band’s musicianship make up for it though. Anyone else performing this song wouldn’t have worked.

Bling (Confessions of a King) (4.5/5) I thought I would hate this track just based off the title, but it’s actually one of the catchiest songs on the whole album. Brandon’s voice starts off real emotional and intense with lyrics like “When I offer you survival, You say it's hard enough to live, It's not so bad, it's not so bad, How do you know that you're right” then he goes into cowboy mode with lyrics like “I feel my vision slipping in and out of focus, But I'm pushing on for that horizon”. I definitely like the contrast of vulnerability and bravado in this song. But then the last minute of the song is full of cliché-ridden lyrics like “higher and higher, we’re going to take it down to the wire, we’re gonna make it out of the fire”. Gag, minus 0.5 just for that.

For Reasons Unknown (5/5) The song that most resembles anything off “Hot Fuss”. My favorite song lyrically, and has a great instrumental during the chorus. Subtle yet catchy, “Hot Fuss” all over it.

Read My Mind (4/5) I thought I would really like this song after my first listen, which was the opposite of the rest of the album since I thought I would hate a majority of it after the first listen. Instrumentals sounds like they came straight off a depeche mode track, which I am a big fan of. However, it doesn’t have as much replay value as some of the other songs on the album for me. Best part of the song is the last 1:25.

Uncle Jonny (4/5) Probably the most “Rock” song on the album, lyrics are heartfelt and it’s got some great rifts. Not sure why they put it right by “Read My Mind” as the style in each song are almost opposite. Now I see why the guys are levitating in the picture from the album sleeve!

Bones (2/5) I had high expectations for this song since I heard it was going to be the 2nd single off the album. My first listen through was gave me the reaction of “eh, that's it?”. That is still my assessment of the song, “eh??”. Sure, it’s catchy but I hate everything about the chorus from the lyrics to the horns trumpeting behind them. Doesn’t sound like a Killers track to me. It would have been okay for a B-Side I think, but not a 2nd single – no way.

My List (4/5) The album kind of hits a lull point here, again I’m not sure why they put on the the slowest songs on the album next to the most quick, annoying songs on the album (see above). Overall, I like the piano in the track and it’s a calming song.

This River Is Wild (5/5) I heard some critics bash this song pretty bad before buying the album. I thought it would be pretty cliché ridden as the title suggests. But now it’s my favorite song on the album overall. It doesn’t let up anywhere - great guitars, chorus, lyrics. Should be a single someday, I hope. “I shake a little” when I hear this song.

Why Do I Keep Counting? (3.5/5) A quirky little song, I could never get into. The chorus doesn’t do it for me, however it starts off pretty nice. Reminds me a little of “Everything Will Be Alright” from “Hot Fuss” as far as vulnerability and trying to be inspirational at the same time. No coincidence that both songs are the last ones on each album.


I don’t think the following songs count as the overall assessment of the album since they are bonus b-sides, but I’ll review them anyway.

Where All the White Dance (2.5/5) Almost as bad as Bones but not quite. The piano and Brandon’s voice do not fit well together on this song.

All the Pretty Faces (4/5) Arguably should have been a main track on Sam’s Town. I like this song a lot, some people disagree with me though. Very arena rock friendly.

Daddy’s Eyes (3/5) Average track, nothing more to say about it. Subject matter is interesting though.


Like I said, the more and more I listen to “Sam’s Town” the more I like it. I may get sick of it soon, but it’s #1 in my CD player now. Why can this album better than "Hot Fuss"? Overall, I think there are the same number of great songs on “Sam’s Town” as there were on "Hot Fuss". It's still too early to tell for me.

On "Hot Fuss", my favorite songs are
Mr. Brightside
Believe Me Natalie
Smile Like You Mean It
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Change Your Mind
On Top

On Sam’s Town my favorites are:
This River Is Wild
Sam’s Town
When You Were Young
For Reasons Unknown
Bling (Confessions of a King)
All the Pretty Faces

Pros: Different approach for the Killers, which shows the band isn’t afraid to experiment. They succeed in doing so as well. Uplifting?

Cons: Not as catchy as “Hot Fuss”, some lyrics that are just a little too optimistic for my tastes.

Call me crazy, but "Sam's Town" is an 4.5/5 in my book.


  • karlsmart

    Hot Fuss was not a perfect album, it had some truly amazing tracks - Brightside, Smile like you mean it, Somebody told me - but also a few not so amazing ones - Everything will be alright, Andy, Believe me Natalie. This makes the album as a whole hard to appreciate from start to finish, and therefore in my eyes not the perfect record it could have been. Along comes Sam's town, and as much as I hate to admit it, the record seems to have the exact same problem as it predecessor: too many weak tracks. Sure, Sam's town has it's moments - opener Sam's town, For reasons unknow and Read my mind are solid and catchy pop songs, but overall I can't help but wonder if the band is really incapable of producing an entire album worth listening to. I love the Killers, but I find myself skipping over too many of their songs. Oh well, there's always next album...

    15 Oct 2006, 12:43
  • JonathanC06

    You forgot to review Enterlude. OK, its only 48 seconds long but it still counts. And no, I really wouldn't call Sams Town better then Hot Fuss. Sams Town is brillant. But Hot Fuss is better with not one track that disapoints. Hot Fuss is better. The tracks on Sams Town are brillant but there are a few that fail me -For Reasons Unknown -My List -This River is Wild And as far Killers lyrics goes, the lyric in When You Were Young will go down as one of the best in history. 2 of them infact. He doesn't look a thing like Jesus but he talks like a gentleman and They say the devil's water ain't so sweet. You don't have to drink right now They won't go down in history as one of the best lyrics ever...unlike this one. I'VE GOT SOUL BUT I'M NOT A SOLDIER!

    15 Oct 2006, 13:03
  • JonathanC06

    Sorry I forgot to point out that when I said that one of the lyrics will go down in history. I should've pointed out it will go down in Killers history. Sorry...

    15 Oct 2006, 13:04
  • JonathanC06

    And it's When You Were Young I was on about, not All These Things That I've Done...sorry...again...:)

    15 Oct 2006, 13:05
  • dehlz

    I never thought the lyrics were great in WYWY, just different than anything I've heard from them. I noticed that WYWY was the only song on the whole album that was written by each of the four band members. If that says anything... But overall I think both albums definately have more strong tracks than weak tracks overall. Maybe it's the other albums that I'm accustomed to listening to where I can maybe listen to 3 or 4 songs if it's a really good album, the rest being filler. The Killers has provided two straight albums where I can listen to more than half the songs and thats an accomplishment.

    15 Oct 2006, 15:59
  • freak_ish

    I love this album, and i'm in total agreeance with Bones. It's a strange little tune. I've listened to the album time and time again now, and i think it exceeds Hot Fuss. They had the balls to try something a little different. I think overall there isn't one TERRIBLE song and the album flows, whereas Hot Fuss had a few outstanding songs and the rest was a bit of a filler.

    21 Oct 2006, 1:04
  • deathtobo

    i agree with you, it is an album you have to listen to a lot to like. however, once these songs start to get stuck in your head, you realise that these are just as good and possibly better than the ones on hot fuss. sam's town, when you were young, bling, for reasons unknown, this river is wild, read my mind are all bloody great songs.

    21 Oct 2006, 6:46
  • racx_00

    I loved every song on Hot Fuss and the same goes for Sam's Town. For some reason though I just like Sam's Town alot more. They have grown and changed their style for the better in my opinion.

    21 Oct 2006, 14:51
  • dehlz

    That's the thing that's so strange about this album, because everyone I've talked to agree that it takes some time to listen to before getting completely hooked. It's like we expected too much of the same of Hot Fuss but got hit with the greatness of Sam's Town. By the way, I saw them live at the Congress Theater in Chicago on 10/17 and they just rocked the place. My only complaint is that they didn't play This river is wild which was the one I was waiting for the most.

    21 Oct 2006, 22:03
  • Cerihutton

    Sams Town is a great album more of a ballad rock style while hot fuss was more like the killers experimenting with diffrent styles of rock. overall i liked hot fuss better but many people tend to forget under the gun(my favourtie song) off the somebody told me single.

    27 Oct 2006, 12:38
  • Sephian

    You should have included Exitlude. It is so catchy. I agree with most of yours although i would have given Bones 4/5 and Where The White Boys Dance 4/5. Also, i copied my album and i didnt get For Reasons Unknown :(. Ill try it again.

    29 Oct 2006, 23:39
  • DelMuse

    Sam's Town is a real grower, that's for sure. Great songs on it. Only Uncle Jonny and Bones are fillers in my opinion.

    3 Nov 2006, 20:15
  • skidzilla

    Definitely a grower rather than an instant [i]argh stuck in an infinite loop in my brain[/i] kind of album. :P

    1 Dic 2006, 3:10
  • lauralbaby

    And six months later I think even those weak songs are stronger than one initially thought.

    21 May 2007, 18:53
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