Hot Fuss

Hot Fuss

Having won over critics on both sides of the Atlantic with the sparkling hooks and maximalist choruses of their first two singles, "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me," The Killers set out to conquer the world with their 2004 debut album, which paired the pomp of New Romantic music with brisk synth-pop that recalled arena-level titans like Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. Those two songs were appealingly glammed-up entrants in the early-'00s "return of rock" gold-rush; "Somebody Told Me" is a tug-of-war between vocalist Brandon Flowers' insistent yelp and shooting-star synths, while "Mr. Brightside" is a broken heart rendered in Vegas-sign neon, its giddiness almost masking the tortured feelings at its core. The rest of Hot Fuss builds on the promise of those singles in thrilling ways, with Flowers serving as the intensely bemused ringmaster of a low-lit, high-drama circus. "All These Things That I've Done" updates the ersatz anthems that ruled modern-rock radio in the '80s for the new millennium, its driving beats building to a singsong bridge—"I got soul, but I'm not a soldier"—that turns twentysomething anomie into a clarion call. "Believe Me Natalie" underscores its tale of New York excess with dime-store horns and high-sheen synths that hint at the tawdry desperation guiding its protagonist. And "Smile Like You Mean It" dresses its regret in sequin-trimmed black, its bouncy beat adding pathos to its snapshot of lost youth. The Killers possessed the swagger of stadium-headlining heavyweights on their debut—and it immediately established them as one of the new millennium's biggest rock acts.

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