FROM A SCRAPPY LAS VEGAS GARAGE BAND TO MAIN STAGE GOLIATHS, THE KILLERS CELEBRATE OVER TWO DECADES OF THUNDERING DANCE-ROCK, POST-PUNK POP, AND DISCO-SOAKED DECADENCE IN THE RECENTLY RELEASED GREATEST HITS COLLECTIVE REBEL DIAMONDS
BY DAN SALAMONE
When The Killers were first unearthed on an expecting public, they weren’t considered the vanguard of the early 2000s wave of indie garage music. at title belonged to The Strokes, with their effortless blend of spiky hooks, New York cool, and glamorously rough-hewn good looks. In fact, it was fashionable during those heady days of hipster snobbery to laugh at The Killers. They were from Vegas, with its gaudily blaring lights, bleary-eyed gangs of bachelors and bachelorettes, and garden variety middlebrow decadence. Regardless of what you think of the town, Vegas lost 99% of its cool quotient sometime after the corporations swept in and ran the gangsters (and the Rat Pack) out.
The Killers were a lot like the modern version of Vegas: savvy and catchy, yes, but a bit too shiny to feel genuine. They felt denuded and safe, where bands like The Strokes felt raw, new, and a little dangerous (at least at the time). The Killers fit too snugly into modern rock radio; even their name (taken from the moniker of a fictitious band in a New Order music video) was try-hard.
But here’s the thing about time: it frequently makes the things you were certain of at 25 look foolish years later. This is the light that The Killers shine brightly under in 2024. Unlike those cool cousins from New York, they didn’t stop making good music after 2003 (though pour one out for Room on Fire, still a brilliant sophomore record). They kept putting out great singles. They persevered, staying relevant by never nodding in the direction of the cutting edge.
So let us welcome with a warm embrace the highly singable Killers greatest hits collection, Rebel Diamonds. While not technically a 2024 release (it came out in December 2023), its rewards unfurl like the career of the band itself: not all at once, but steadily over time. Glancing through the tracklist, all the obvious heavy hitters are PURE AMERICANA The Killers thekillersmusic.com W accounted for (“Somebody Told Me,” “All The Things at I’ve Done,” “When You Were Young,” and the timelessly unimpeachable “Mr. Brightside”). But there’s also the sneakily underrated songs like “Human” and “Spaceman,” two brilliantly danceable collaborations with electronic super-producer Stuart Price (Madonna, Pet Shop Boys, Katy Perry) from their excellent 2008 album, Day and Age.
The Killers never altered their art for the snobs or hipster cliques. They made songs for as wide an audience as possible. They wanted to be U2 not the earnest, early-era U2 that wrote songs that set the college kids a utter. They wanted to be the superstar version (post Rattle and Hum), the universal titans whose songs were poppy, bright, and could easily fill stadiums. Even e Killers’ stylistic changes mirrored their rock god forebears, going full Springsteen style anthemic on their 2006 album, Sam’s Town.
As the handsome-but-boyish face of e Killers, Brandon Flowers has always been an odd rockstar. As a devout Mormon, he was never going to be the guy destroying hotel rooms. For this reason, he seems much better equipped to accept his band for what they were, what they are now, and what they will become. He’s often talked about the need to change The Killers to suit where he and his band mates are in their lives, even if that marks a new stylistic direction that may alienate some of his prior fans. That’s why Rebel Diamonds might not be merely a greatest hits collection for a band that landed on the right side of rock history. It is, potentially, a document of a genre-defying voice that was, but may never be the same again.