Only a gay guy – or a straight dude raised on queer musicians – would have a birthname like Brandon Flowers. And the pretty boy frontman of The Killers (who is, by the way, hetero – and a daddy) was frank about his gay influences with The Advocate recently: “Whether I knew it or not, or found out later, a lot of the music that I grew up on tended to be made by gay men. A lot of my heroes were and are gay men.”
Which helps explain some of the flamboyant sounds on the Vegas-bred quartet’s late-November release, “Day & Age,” a hodgepodge of sax-swathed, disco-y glam-rock and tropical beats, courtesy of Madonna producer, Stuart Price. The blogosphere is abuzz with questions about “Human,” a shimmery dance-floor delight matched with an equally endearing humanity-questioning narrative (the lyric, skeptics, is, “Are we human or are we dancer?” – inspired by Hunter S. Thompson).
It’s positively ear-wormy – and queer, something The Killers are catching flack for on a menagerie of message boards. Uh, did these same folks hear “Mr. Brightside”? And have they ever caught a glimpse of Flowers (sans facial hair), who’s like the Zac Efron of glam-rock? The guy might be married to a chick, but let us not forget Flowers also unabashedly admitted to The Advocate that the Scissor Sisters’ stylist, “Mrs. Jones” (Fee Doran), tailored two jackets with fur sleeves for him. And they’re not just borrowing styles; they’re fitting songs in quirky beats and lyricism, like on “Spaceman,” a spry out-there romp about aliens abducting him and taking his blood type.
When he’s not exalting the WTF factor, he lets the exotic beats forge the wackiness for him. “I Can’t Stay” – which it does, in your head at least – is framed in a Caribbean vibe (who wouldn’t love to see Flowers in a grass skirt, by the way?), epitomizing their most playful collection yet.
Others sound like Arcade Fire knock-offs, albeit decent ones. Flowers sounds particularly like their frontman, Win Butler, on “A Dustland Fairytale” and “Neon Tiger,” where his voice is marked by a surprising urgency, a bit of Bruce Springsteen fused into his vox. And even though the last couple of tracks – especially the pretentiously tedious “Goodnight, Travel Well” – stumble into generic rock-lite balladry, The Killers prove something bigger than their gay following. They’re less an all-guy rock spawn headed by a pretty boy than an evolving band that’s finally found their sound – a satisfying medium between the new-wavy funk-rock (“Hot Fuss”) they began with, and the take-us-seriously-we’ve-got-beards schtick (“Sam’s Town”) they followed it up with. And that’s something to get gay about. B
7:30 p.m. Jan. 22
Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center, Ypsilanti