10 Years Later: ‘Hot Fuss’ by the Killers

Retrospective 2004- The Killers - Hot Fuss

By Shawn Gakhal

shawnonthetorch@gmail.com
Before their recent foray into arena rock superstardom and Brandon Flowers’ fascination with all things Bruce Springsteen, the Killers were, at one time, a promising young band from Las Vegas, setting the indie-rock world ablaze with their first single “Mr. Brightside.”
“Mr. Brightside” was released in 2003 and produced a gigantic buildup to the synth-laden and lush debut that was “Hot Fuss.”
It’s crazy to think that they never could top their debut, and that’s why, in retrospect, “Hot Fuss” is one of the best albums of all time.
From the heart-pounding bass line and shimmering indie-rock guitars in “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” to the 1980s-synth-inspired “Smile Like You Mean It,” “Hot Fuss” had more killer — no pun intended — tracks on it than Panic! At the Disco has had in their entire discography.
Ironically, “Hot Fuss” represented the Killers at their best, absolute prime, where everything seemed so effortless and cool as hell.
From Flowers’ signature new-wave revivalist howl to Dave Keuning’s brilliant guitar work on “Mr. Brightside,” the band had the perfect recipe for success already in hand.
By the way, “Mr. Brightside” is, hands down, the best Killers song ever. Period. No arguments. We could even go as far as saying it’s one of the best songs of the past 10 years. It is that great. The keyboard-heavy, ornate chorus is, simply, one of the best I’ve ever heard, regardless of genre.
After their debut, the Killers got rid of all their Las Vegas-y leanings [think flashy and bombastic] and tried and successfully hit the arena-rock mainstream market with hits like “When You Were Young” and “Human.”
While those songs are nice and all, who can honestly listen to the killer guitar riff coupled with Flowers’ trademark dissonant whimpers on “On Top” and think that “Hot Fuss” wasn’t their musical and creative apex?
We could go through every song on here and talk about it for hours because mere print does this album no justice.
How did Pitchfork ever give this a 5.2 rating? Blasphemous.
The “Hot Fuss” era also had included Flowers’ fascination with eyeliner and flashy blazers — his love affair with the 1980s proudly on display — of which he gladly and confusedly traded in for Trucker jackets and faded jeans.
There are so many questions in history that escape us. Where do we come from? Is there an afterlife? Why did Flowers stop wearing eyeliner and flashy blazers?
I guess we’ll never know.
Every song on “Hot Fuss” is a potential hit from the nostalgic-tinged “Believe Me Natalie” to the new wave, club atmosphere of “Midnight Show,” to the somber electro ballad with Flowers’ brilliant, distorted vocals starring in “Everything Will be Alright.”
And, ultimately, maybe that’s the thing to take away from “Hot Fuss.” While these type of Killers are forever gone, their music will always be here to whisper in our ear, saying, “Everything Will Be Alright.”

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