This has either everything or nothing to do with the fact that every single time I read an interview with Brandon Flowers, our musical stars align: his current favorite artists or sounds he’s inspired by are almost always freakishly similar to my own. I’m not inclined to save interviews or jot down quotes unless I’m in the midst of research, so I’ve never made note of these cosmic moments, but I always remember that struck-dumb moment when I stop for a second and think, Fuck, some dude who wears epaulettes made of fowl is my musical soul mate.
This has either everything or nothing to do with the fact that every single review compared Sam’s Town to Bruce Springsteen as if it came with the press release and everyone was only clever enough to switch the syntax. I mean, I got it, I get it, I really do, but in rock criticism, it’s greater cultural cache to be inspired by Springsteen than the Pet Shop Boys so by the time the third album comes along and there’s no press release or immediately noticeable rock influence, people become strapped for words, like hey, are they a rock band or a pop band? Because they certainly can’t have it both ways, right?
This has either everything or nothing to do with the fact that 2008 was a pretty poor year for albums: hello y’all, Britney Spears’ Circus was a pretty good album, but I couldn’t even find three better albums, solidifying its position as the appears number eight album of 2008 – to be sure, revisionism makes everything seedier: Neon Neon’s Stainless Style definitely should have been on that list; PlayRadioPlay! not so much. But I’m correcting this error now: Day & Age should have been a top five.
This has either everything or nothing to do with the fact that Sam’s Town was a precious slice of Americana, held at just an arm’s length away enough to exude that hint of irony, prompting everybody from hipsters to alt-country purists to offer discourse on its subtext. But when the curtain fell and it didn’t look like the band was all that comfortable with their Fu Manchus after all, pity the record that channels British synth pop instead of this generation’s (attempted) answer to Born to Run, even when the band’s first record made no secret of its love for dance music.
This has either everything or nothing to do with the fact that I was honestly under the impression by those around me that Day & Age was a ridiculous farce of music (these being the seven or so rare fans of Sam’s Town who were WTF-ed into paroxysms of shock by admittedly questionable lyrics – human/dancer, etc.; one acquaintance called it a soundtrack to Women’s Workout World, which made me sad because it was a double slam against the band and, apparently, the musical sensibilities of females who stay in shape) before noting that, critically, Day & Age did a whole lot better than Sam’s Town. Popularity does not equal quality, but misunderstanding can often lead to condemnation; I thought if they could only understand Flowers’ clear homage to Lowe/Tenant, they would like this record. But the album fared tremendously not only in the US, but in the UK and other parts of the world, making the distance I have to travel to find supporters so much less: it’s true devoid-of-borders, open-to-interpretation, wearing-its-heart-on-its-sleeve pop.
Day & Age is like ABBA’s induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: it never needed your validation.