The mark of a band who've put a bit of love into their flipside catalogue.
Al Fox 2007-11-09
It could be argued that B-sides are a true measure of a band's work ethic. Some artists relegate album off-cuts to B-side status with varying degrees of quality, while others strive to make recording fresh, worthwhile material a fundamental aspect of the job (see also Oasis, Suede).
So the release of a B-sides compilation is probably the mark of a band who've put a bit of love into their flipside catalogue. One such act is The Killers, whose anthology, Sawdust, collates tracks from all singles, with a handful of covers, a sprinkling of re-records and the occasional new offering.
The electro-allusions, chunky riffs and nods to Britrock illustrated in Hot Fuss far outshine the big, empty stabs at grandeur of Sam's Town. Examples of both are on display throughout Sawdust, with one track actually straddling the two: "Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll" - which became an unofficial benchmark of the Killers' mid-Atlantic rock-with-panache - makes an appearance in the form of an anaemic re-recording. It's not a wise move, as it only adds weight to the widespread criticism of the Killers' later material.
Luckily, alternative recent offerings counteract this, with "Tranquilize" providing the ideal forum for Lou Reed's weathered perfection to meet Brandon Flowers' comparative whippersnapper glory. A far more organic take on the amply-twiddled Killers sound, it's an interesting prospect for future work.
Elsewhere, "Where The White Boys Dance" revisits the early androgyny that turned the heads of the music press, while their tense take on Joy Division’s "Shadowplay" hurriedly bubbles along with quiet anger, punctuated by TKO instrumentals.
The varying changes in style and quality underline the compilation aspect heavily, so treat Sawdust as an album, and you're in for a world of confusion. Take it as a hand-picked retrospective collection, and it works nicely. And while it does highlight both the successes and the misses in equal measure, it is, effectively, just a stop gap. Your full scathing judgement is best reserved for studio album number three...