For divas, crooners, and tiger tamers of a certain age, Las Vegas is the superlative third act in a long, sequined career. But what does the city mean to a band of sharply tailored twentysomethings whose musical heroes are more New Order than Wayne Newton? On their third album, Vegas-bred foursome the Killers have laid their fingers firmly on the neon-Neverland pulse of their hometown. Amid references to the Sierra Nevadas and ”the heat of the Southwest sun,” singer Brandon Flowers and the band construct an album that is one-third Duran Duran glam (the go-to mode of the Killers’ four-times-platinum debut, 2004’s Hot Fuss), one-third Bono majestic (see slow-burning but surprisingly gratifying 2006 follow-up Sam’s Town), and one-third fresh retro (shades of Roxy Music and Hunky Dory-era Bowie).
The epic, synth-framed first single, ”Human,” is typically Flowers-y in its sometimes-shaky lyric reach, though his Bryan Ferry-esque vocals are gratifyingly supple and expressive. (Blog wars have already been waged over the song’s referential chorus; for the record, it’s ”Are we human/ Or are we dancer,” not ”denser” — via Hunter S. Thompson, that crazy coot.)
Throughout, producer Stuart Price, the Brit behind Madonna’s 2005 disco inferno Confessions on a Dance Floor, adds a campy ’80s gloss, with some unexpected — and at times, frankly, bizarre — bits, like the steel-drum conga line on ”Joy Ride” (could that be Clarence Clemons on sax?). ”Sledgehammer”-style horns provide a quirky sort of levity on the otherwise grandiloquent ”Losing Touch,” and the thunderous build on the excellently moody ”Neon Tiger” is perfectly pitched. Second single ”Spaceman,” with its bobbing ”oh oh oh” chorus and bouncy drum kick, elevates the lonely-astronaut narrative (very ”Life on Mars?” Bowie) to arena-anthem status, though the tropical vibe of the otherwise lovely ”I Can’t Stay” is less Ipanema cool than Sandals-resort sunburn. Like Vegas itself, Day & Age sometimes leans toward sensory overload. But the pull of its showgirls-and-fool’s-gold glory is undeniable. B+
Download This: Listen to songs from the new album on the band’s MySpace