The album opens as it means to go on, with mournful but insistent guitar strumming and a low-fi production and Jenny Was a Friend of Mine, a hymn to that moment in every life where you realise that someone has grown distant. Brandon Flowers is at his youngest and most emotional. His vocal holds as a mournful hipster voice screaming out to be heard with just enough punch and power to keep it deeply moving without moving into preaching territory. Mr. Brightside is the cut from this record that has become an anthem of our generation. The lyrics refer perhaps to voyeurism or witnessing infidelity. Lyrics repeated in the chorus include the helpless “Let me go!/I just can’t look/It’s killing me”. Mr. Brightside is the ultimate pop song, one if its many incarnations.
The album is a tour-de-force in glib indie-pop sensibilities. There is the implied darkness throughout Andy You’re a Star and they even manage a few minutes to satirise themselves in Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll [on the UK release]. The album as a whole is also constructed to the point of being obsessive and everything builds to the zenith of On Top, capturing that single drunken moment late at night when all your misgivings and failures slide away to be replaced by genuine friendship, music joy and love. Looking back at the past with eyes made fuzzy by alcohol is the only time our lives look good, after all. On Top captures this brilliantly. It is a soaring and scintillating love song to when we genuinely realise life isn’t all that bad. It’s a late night song made bittersweet by what comes after it. The miserable hangover of Believe Me Natalie and Midnight Show.
I talk all I know a heap of bullshit about albums, about places they can take you, but it is amazing to find an album that takes you to exactly where you are. Listening to this record again after several years abstinence how my perception of it has changed. While I was maturing, we all listened to it with foreboding. The record seemed to forewarn of mediocrity, broken friendships and failure in life; not in any great degree, but just the general misfortune, missed opportunities and heartbreak every tombstone is etched with. Listening to this album at age 14, 15, 16, at parties and at home it became kind of the anthems of Generation Why. Listening to it now, it is hard to shake the feeling that these are the ballads, as we suspected in our teens, of a lonely flat, watching the rain roll down the glass. Very much like the flat in which I now reside. This album shows how the revolutionary-minded teens of yesteryear have become the neurotic failures of today. We live in different times than we envisioned. And nothing really worked out how we wanted it to, did it?Written under duress by Steven