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Rhythm & Views

The Killers

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First-time listeners of The Killers' latest release, Day and Age, may think they mistakenly downloaded the band's 2007 rarities/remix album Sawdust. While on terminal hold with iTunes' customer service, as cheesy '80s saxophones, Caribbean steel drums and a thumping disco bass waft in the background, it may dawn on them that this is, in fact, the new Killers disc and not a Dancing With the Stars remix.

Putting a modern sheen on '80s schlock is nothing new, but The Killers still play it safe in putting proven makeover producer Stuart Price (Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Missy Elliott) behind the wheel for Day. Price allows Killers vocalist and songwriter Brandon Flowers to explore his lighter side while stopping short of an embarrassing variety-show audition.

Day's first single, "Human," embraces the Pet Shop Boys' pioneering gay-club sound without crossing into the Cher zone; "Joy Ride" gives nods to Duran Duran and Billy Ocean, and one-ups disco attempts by KISS and Wings; "I Can't Stay," with its island rhythms and harps, could be the greatest Come to Jamaica/Princess Cruise theme ever. "This Is Your Life" mashes up "Tarzan Boy" (from the '80s Listerine ad) with a slow U2/Big Country march, while "The World We Live In" sounds like INXS circa 1988 reworking Wham's "Everything She Wants."

That said, Day ultimately works, because, let's face it: Cheesy or not, like the show says, these Killers got talent, and Flowers' charm ultimately triumphs. If the album completely flops, look to Dancing With the Stars in 2010 to include Flowers' ballroom-dancing debut.

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