Scrapping an album is no small feat, but a respectable one when standards are perceived as dipping. The Killers give it their all on Your Side of Town, something missing from the band rightly dubbed “Vegas Pulp” by one Leeds Festival attendee, for the past few albums. Brandon Flowers and company decide enough shoddy work is enough and pull the plug on what could have been. Your Side of Town, a track where the title is more 1970s Bruce Springsteen than anything the songwriter behind Human and When You Were Young could write, is a shock to the system. The more you listen to Your Side of Town, the more you realise why Pet Shop Boys were dragged onto the Glastonbury stage with them back in 2019.
Because that is what Your Side of Town is, a Pet Shop Boys cover. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe may not have written this but the beat and style, the punchy delivery and synth-heavy exploration are certainly ripped from their back catalogue. No wonder it was scrapped. The Killers provide a great blur of Daft Punk energies and Pet Shop Boys candour, but Flowers’ style does not fit either. Even then this new wave throwback is one of the more interesting projects from The Killers in the last few years. Clear it may be to see why it was canned, Your Side of Town would show promise if it were not an obvious riff and muddying of the waters. Even the warmer tones and keyboard note placements are typical of Pet Shop Boys. This is the closest The Killers have sounded to using a ghostwriter.
Even then, the sonic boom presented by The Killers is hard to cut through, so loud and aggravating it can be. Once the initial shock of hearing a synth-pop number from the men who brought us Mr. Brightside wears off, all that is left is a wiry little number which is doing its best Introspective impression. Revival tracks are always a difficult minefield because the comparisons are inevitable. But comparisons should not be as easy as they are here, where the replication of two major duos to succeed in both contemporary activity and hindsight sampling are blurred together with little effect. Stuart Price collaborations mean these heavier moments are expected, but the move away from Pet Shop Boys clarity in his other mixings means The Killers are actively focusing on the desire to push through as a cover band of their idols.
Never a bad place to be, but The Killers are more than just a cover band of the Pet Shop Boys. Or at least we can still hope they are after the dud run of albums the band are experiencing. They documented themselves well on Pressure Machine and are now in the vacuum which follows mega-stardom. Few can kick up the velocity needed to stay at the top for so long without releasing anything of worth in decades. Just look at Coldplay. The Killers are nowhere close to this, thankfully, and although there is value to be found in listening to Your Side of Town, the fun and freedom degenerate quickly for those who are even vaguely aware of Pet Shop Boys.