Direct Hits (The Killers album)
|Greatest hits album by The Killers|
|Released||November 11, 2013|
|The Killers chronology|
|Singles from Direct Hits|
Direct Hits is a greatest hits album by American rock band The Killers, released on November 11, 2013 by Island Records. The album includes singles from the band's four studio albums to date, and features two new tracks, "Shot at the Night" and "Just Another Girl", produced by Anthony Gonzalez of M83 and Stuart Price, respectively.
Background and recording
In 2013, during the band's Battle Born World Tour, The Killers began recording new material for a possible single release or new studio album. In June 2013, drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. noted, "[We're] not just [recording] demos. Real recordings. I mean, you never know what it's gonna be, I guess. But we have our engineer, and we're working with a couple of surprise guests, in the producer capacity. Some of it is sounding really cool. We can be guilty of making things so ornate, and sometimes that's a bad thing. So I always have conversations with Brandon [Flowers] about working from a smaller palette, simplifying things. If these new tracks develop a theme, a common thread, then that could be the start of something." Guitarist Dave Keuning elaborated, "I'm not saying a new album is going to come out or anything like that. But sometimes people just put out songs or it gets used for some kind of compilation. We'd like to get a new song out there soon."
The track "Shot at the Night" was produced by Anthony Gonzalez of French band M83, who had previously supported The Killers on their Day & Age World Tour. The band's label, Island Records, subsequently suggested Gonzalez as a possible producer for the band, following the success of M83's sixth studio album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (2011). Guitarist Dave Keuning noted, "There was a mutual thing like, 'Yeah we think he's good. We'll try him out.' It's something we finally agreed with our label on." Regarding the band's collaboration with Gonzalez, Flowers stated, "He's one of these new school producers. He's a technical wizard, but you can't discount his musicality. A lot of people do, because of the involvement of computers, but he's a real musician, too. He and Stuart Price may be known for working on the digital side of things, but they're also two of the most musical guys I've ever met."
Stuart Price, who had previously worked with the band on both their third studio album, Day & Age (2008), and on the Battle Born (2012) track, "Miss Atomic Bomb", produced the second of the two new songs, "Just Another Girl". Flowers noted, "[Stuart Price has] become like my brother now: we work well together, and I'm always impressed with his musicality and his taste. It's in a different vein from 'Shot At The Night', it's more of a narrative. You're 'in' the song in a different way."
According to vocalist Brandon Flowers, Direct Hits was originally entitled Cream. He notes, "The initial idea, which maybe was better, was Cream. It was my idea. It was a play on the fact that we put out a B-sides compilation called Sawdust. And so it made sense to call the ones that were our best Cream." Flowers' original idea for the album sleeve featured the Hoover Dam and a reservoir of cream.
Direct Hits was announced on September 16, 2013—the ten-year anniversary of the band's first UK show, which took place at London's Dublin Castle. Regarding this, Flowers noted, "We were so excited about being on English soil for the first time that night. I remember falling on my ass during 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine', but NME gave the show a positive review, and that really helped to launch us."
When their label first raised the idea of a greatest hits album, Flowers says the band was surprised: "I'm a little young to already be putting out a greatest-hits album. This is premature, but the label was going to do it anyway ... so we decided to get involved with the artwork and contribute a couple of songs." Drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. agreed: "We'd wait another 10 years if it was up to us, but it's a contractual thing. We can fill a CD so it makes good business sense at this time of year. However, it's not like we're so pleased with ourselves we want to put it out. It feels like a douchie move."
Flowers is proud of the release: "It's a celebration of this decade for us. Some people maybe wouldn't do so much for a 'Best of', but I was introduced to a lot of music from bands' 'Best ofs', from Elton John to The Cars to Otis Redding, Johnny Cash... So I want to promote it! I'm happy to have one."
In the week after the album's release, four of The Killers' songs either entered or re-entered the UK Singles Chart, including "Shot at the Night" (number 23), "Just Another Girl" (number 83), "When You Were Young" (number 87), and "Mr. Brightside" (number 88).
Direct Hits does not include the singles "Bones", "Tranquilize", "The World We Live In" or "Here With Me", or the popular and critically acclaimed non-single from the band's debut album, Hot Fuss, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine". Battle Born album track, "The Way It Was", however, is included on the track listing, and was not released as a single. Regarding its inclusion, Flowers noted, "With 20/20 hindsight, this song probably should've been a single. That'll probably be what's written on its headstone! When we play it live and Dave's riff starts, it's magic. We all love that song, so that's why it's on here."
A further Battle Born album track, "Be Still", is included as the closing track on the deluxe edition. Flowers states: "In this climate that we're in, or whatever you want to call it, people pick and choose songs, and I think in the confusion of that process, they sometimes don't know about certain songs. This is one that we're very proud of and that we love, so we felt it would have more of a chance if we put it on the record."
In a positive review, AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote: "The main benefit of Direct Hits, especially for those listeners who have always doubted the skills of The Killers, is how the operatic ambitions of Sam's Town feel not so extravagant when bookended by selections from Day & Age and Battle Born. All three of the albums – which are represented by three cuts a piece – sound strong here but what really has lasted are those singles from 2004's Hot Fuss [...] which now seem to capture a particular moment in time and yet also transcend it." Writing for Clash, Robin Murray gave the album a positive review, but noted that it was too soon for a career-spanning release: "Charting the long rise of a true pop phenomenon, Direct Hits is almost dragged under by the weight of the band’s success – each song simply feels too fresh, too well known to warrant the archival. A nice refresher, if a little unnecessary."
|2.||"Somebody Told Me"||
|3.||"Smile Like You Mean It"||
|4.||"All These Things That I've Done"||Flowers||
|5.||"When You Were Young"||
|6.||"Read My Mind"||
|7.||"For Reasons Unknown"||Flowers||
|10.||"A Dustland Fairytale"||
|12.||"Miss Atomic Bomb"||
|13.||"The Way It Was"||
|14.||"Shot at the Night"||Flowers||Anthony Gonzalez||4:02|
|15.||"Just Another Girl"||Flowers||Price||4:22|
|Deluxe edition bonus tracks|
|16.||"Mr. Brightside" (original demo)||
|17.||"When You Were Young" (Calvin Harris Remix)||
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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