It’s been over a decade since The Killers’ debut album Hot Fuss. A decade with three other studio albums should be a sufficient amount of time for big music listeners, especially fans/critics of The Killers, to accept that maybe we will never get another Hot Fuss. And maybe, just maybe, that’s okay.
Music has evolved since 2004 when it was released – why should any listener expect or hope for an artist to adhere to their original sound, even if it was golden? Should we expect and demand for The Killers, or any band, to return to the mid-2000s in 2017? Based on the different sounds of everything that came after it, we can be pretty sure that The Killers never intended for make a Hot Fuss 2.0. Brandon Flowers and co. are more focused on creating music that will be memorable in the year that it is released, not to cater to people stuck in the past.
And when those expectations are discarded, I believe that the impressions of everything that has come after, including the upcoming album Wonderful Wonderful, will hold that each album in this discography has some strong replay value in their own respective ways with their own respective sounds, while all still being true to The Killers’ sound. And with The Man specifically, I expect that when people toss their desire for it to be the next Smile Like You Mean It, they will see exceptional talent, effort, and persistent thought and experimentation put into this track as the band explores further into new territory.
Upon my first listening, I was not thrilled by The Man, as it felt somewhat like one of the B-Sides that could have ended up on their compilation album Sawdust. But as I gave it another couple listens, different layers and details began to make themselves more apparent. There’s a solid, groovy base line driving the track that feels very danceable and ends up pairing well with almost ethereal guitar work floating throughout the first half. And there are some smooth-yet-powerful accompanying background vocals. (Plus, for those hard headed Hot Fuss fans, there is some nostalgic synth that meshes well with the rest of the instrumentation.)
The lyrics added to my initial indifference toward the single, but as I delved a little more into it, I discovered some humor and pointed wit behind the track. Initially the somewhat repetitive question and answer “Who’s the man?/I’m the man!” felt trite and painfully simple, especially coming from Flowers, who has shown some prowess for creating vivid imagery lyrically in his two solo albums. But upon further thought, it all makes for an entertaining (and painfully accurate) commentary of the childishness and arrogance of our culture’s understanding of masculinity. The bravado and machismo in the lyrics reaches the point of spectacular absurdity in the third verse, with Flowers comparing himself to USDA certified lean steak. And putting this all together makes the track cover make perfect sense – a child in a man’s leather jacket, comically oversized for the wearer.
This little taste of what is to come gives me hope as The Killers continue to work their damnedest to keep their music “fresh” with constant experimentation. Though while not as amazing as the lyrics of The Man boldly claim, there may be yet another great, memorable album on the way.
Listen to The Man here or buy it at Google Play or iTunes.