The Killers are one of those Rorschach bands who reveal more about the listener then they do about themselves. Do you see them as rock or pop? Classic or contemporary? Guitar-driven, or synth-sleek? Indie or mainstream? Cool or corny? These Las Vegas desert sons are proudly, emphatically all those things, but because they bring together so many aspects seen as cultural opposites, they demand taking sides: Are you pro or anti-Killers?
Direct Hits makes the strongest argument yet that one join the former camp. This is a gloriously garish band, and this 15-cut collection (18 in the deluxe) gathers most of their biggest and brightest with relentlessly bombastic results. Arranged chronologically, it takes notable liberties with their singles catalog: Sam’s Town‘s “For Reasons Unknown” takes the place of its far more popular “Bones,” while Battle Born album track “The Way it Was” swaps out “Here with Me.” Nowhere is there anything from Sawdust.
Instead, two new songs — “Shot in the Night,” a sparkly bauble produced by M83′s Anthony Gonzalez; and “Just Another Girl,” a Stuart Price-overseen aria that combines heartland rock drama and European studio finesse like only the Killers can — flesh out the standard edition, while the deluxe edition comes padded out with a “Mr. Brightside” demo, Calvin Harris’s EDM remix of “When You Were Young,” and another chance to hear overlooked and uncharacteristically understated Battle Born beat ballad “Be Still.” Combining authenticity with artifice the way casinos blur day and night, the Killers here showcase an unrepentantly Vegas aesthetic, one that’s grown more nuanced but remains no less neon-hued.