The Killers' great gift is that they -- and in particular their frontman, Brandon Flowers -- have utterly no recognition of the ridiculous. More than that, they're drawn to the ridiculous, piecing together sounds that don't belong together, reaching far beyond their grasp, aiming for profundity and slipping into silliness. All this weighed the band down mightily on Sam's Town, their convoluted Americana theme park of a sophomore album, all false façades and paper-thin pretension, but on its 2008 sequel, Day & Age, the Killers shrink the canvas and brighten their palette, opting for a big sound over big themes. Since the Killers are at their core poseurs and not prophets, style over substance is the right move and Day & Age has style for miles and miles, exceeding even their debut, Hot Fuss, in its stainless steel gleam. If anything, Hot Fuss was a little too monochromatic in its obsession with '80s synth rock, a criticism that can hardly be leveled at Day & Age, a record that stitches together sounds with an almost blissfully idiotic abandon. Anchored in dance-rock though they may be, the Killers no longer sound like mere disciples of New Order and Duran Duran: emboldened by the left turns of Sam's Town, no matter how misguided they may have been, the Killers will try anything, goosing "Losing Touch" with growling saxophones, creating a Strokes disco for "Joy Ride," flirting with worldbeat à la Vampire Weekend on "This Is Your Life," dancing the bossa nova on "I Can't Stay," and riding a tight soulful rock & roll groove on "The World We Live In," bringing it close to a mad fusion of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra" and Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes." Like before, it's impossible to tell if such improbable juxtapositions are intentional or accidental, but given the overall tightness of Day & Age, it feels as if the Killers do indeed mean to create these odd, often pleasing, pop pastiches. And the emphasis damn well should be on the sound and melody, for Flowers remains a downright goofy lyricist, whether he's misinterpreting Hunter S. Thompson on "Human" or recounting an alien abduction on "Spaceman." Ridiculousness is much harder to stomach in words than it is in music, but the nice thing about Day & Age is that not only is Flowers' voice relatively buried, the Killers are unwittingly comfortable with their ludicrous, outsized pop, which turns the album into terrifically trashy pop. Not the serious rock they yearn to be by any means, but these fashionable threads fit them better anyway.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine