The Killers got a lot of traction for “Mr. Brightside” back in 2004, but they also have an entire back catalog of less erotic material that’s still pretty solid. We recently revisited all seven of their albums to research glamorous indie rock and roll, which we now know is just a fancy description for arena rock. Here’s our definitive ranking of those albums.
Honorable Mention: Sawdust (2007)
Fans of “Hot Fuss” should at least check out this compilation for “Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf,” a groovy murder ballad that hits differently when we remember Brandon Flowers is a practicing Mormon. It’s wild enough that he doesn’t leave soda out either. We still can’t believe this isn’t officially an album considering how badly we want to call it top 3 material, but The Hard Times doesn’t bend rules like Brandon does with his beverages.
7. Pressure Machine (2021)
There’s a good reason this album has a regular version and an abridged version — it’s too goddamn long. Maybe it wouldn’t suffer from that problem if Brandon Flowers spent less time singing about Vegas in the band’s early days and owned up to his Utah roots. If we wanted to hear spoken-word interludes about life in a miserable town, we would lurk outside the county courthouse. The gossip over there is way more interesting.
Play It Again: “Runaway Horses”
Skip It: Those damn interludes.
6. Wonderful Wonderful (2017)
“Wonderful” is a strong word for this album. Worse music exists, but so do better Killers albums. And as much as we liked this album when it came out, it was their first new release in five years. We were desperate. The singles were exciting at the time but the album itself has a lot of filler. Besides, we’ve heard “The Man” too many times to enjoy it anymore. Not every movie trailer needed that single, especially not the one for that Dick Cheney biopic with Christian Bale.
Play It Again: “Run For Cover”
Skip It: “Out Of My Mind”
5. Battle Born (2012)
Contrary to its title, this is not a good album for battle. Ever tried to throw punches to the beat of “The Way It Was?” Your opponent will overpower you and your body will never be the way it was before. Nevertheless, it’s still a fine collection of songs if you’re taking a late-night drive through the desert or trying to own every Killers album ever made. It works very well for either of those purposes.
Play It Again: “Miss Atomic Bomb”
Skip It: “Heart of a Girl”
4. Day & Age (2008)
The Killers tried to start years of existentialist debate by raising the question of whether we’re human or dancer, but you’ll probably be more dancer by the end of this poppy third album. It’s a fun listen the entire way through, even when a few of us allegedly cried to “A Dustland Fairytale.” There’s also a B-side called “Neon Tiger” which is quite literally about a tiger. If that doesn’t sell this album to you, we’re not sure what will.
Play It Again: “Spaceman,” “A Dustland Fairytale”
Skip It: “I Can’t Stay”
3. Imploding the Mirage (2020)
The Killers were very brave to record music in Utah after making Vegas their defining personality trait for a decade and a half. Luckily, that creative risk paid off with this work of art. The hooks are so grandiose and dazzling that we can almost forgive the band for not coming clean about the whole Utah thing sooner. We’d even let them make music in Idaho if the final product reached this album’s heights.
Play It Again: “My Own Soul’s Warning”
Skip It: “Fire in Bone”
2. Hot Fuss (2004)
By far the best new wave album to come out in the early aughts, The Killers earned their name with this debut. It’s so good that Brandon Flowers confessed to murder on the opening track and nobody bothered to question him about it. We should have known something was afoot when he said “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier.” The Killers may not sing about killing as much these days but they have to keep the feds off their trail somehow.
Play It Again: “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine,” “Somebody Told Me”
Skip It: If you skip a single track of this album, The Killers will have to write another song about murder.
1. Sam’s Town (2006)
Forget “Mr. Brightside,” this is The Killers’ true magnum opus. Even though it’s another album about Vegas, the switch from new wave to Americana influences makes Sin City feel like an entirely new world. It’s also a great concept album thanks to the “Enterlude” and “Exitlude” bookends. Critics who panned this when it first came out should lose sleep thinking about how wrong they were.
Play It Again: “Bling (Confessions Of A King)”
Skip It: Any reviews of this from before the 10th anniversary. Society wasn’t ready.