Is it just me, or does it seem that artists and bands release their greatest hits compilations (or sometimes a holiday album) when their careers are at a transitional point? For The Killers, that period of transition seems to be what’s the next career step to take following the underwhelming chart performance of excellent fourth studio LP Battle Born. Direct Hits serves the purpose to remind fans of the band how great they’ve been since their 2004 breakthrough. Ordered chronologically, Direct Hits in its standard form features 15 tracks divided in four, three, three, three, and two-song groups respectfully by The Killers’ albums. Ultimately, Direct Hits proves to be a solid compilation, but not without some question marks.
Tracks 1-4 from
Hot Fuss (2004)
“Mr. Brightside”, “Somebody Told Me,” “Smile Like You Mean It” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” represent The Killers’ breakthrough debut album, Hot Fuss. If one of these cuts is an ‘unexpected’ inclusion on this greatest hits compilation, it is “Smile Like You Mean It”, which was the final single issued from Hot Fuss and easily the least notable. “Smile Like You Mean It” didn’t receive the same visibility as the other three, all the elite representatives of Hot Fuss. This group of four tracks initiate Direct Hits.
Tracks 5-7 from
Sam’s Town (2006)
“When You Were Young”, “Read My Mind”, and “For Reasons Unknown” hail from sophomore effort, Sam’s Town. Sam’s Town as an album had plenty of upside, including two out of three of the aforementioned cuts which were Billboard Hot 100 singles. “When You Were Young” was the most popular single, cracking the top 20 of the Hot 100. “Read My Mind” was my personal favorite, but it only managed to peak at no. 62 on the same chart. Excluded on this compilation is the set’s third single “Bones”, which didn’t match the success of the previous. “For Reasons Unknown” wasn’t a triumph itself, which makes it’s inclusion a bit of a head scratcher.
Tracks 8-10 from
Day & Age (2008)
“Human”, “Spaceman”, and “A Dustland Fairytale” represent the Killers’ 2008 effort, Day & Age. “Human” was the ‘crown jewel’ from Day & Age, though only peaked at no. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, the line “Are we human? Or are we dancer” rings clear in my mind, five years later. “Spaceman” rightfully makes the cut as a single that peaked in the 60s on the Billboard Hot 100, while “A Dustland Fairytale” was the least successful of the three, only denting the Modern Rock Tracks chart. As insinuated, it’s “Human” that is definitive here, with the rest of the cuts serving as bridesmaids. If I were to include another cut or replace say “A Dustland Fairytale”, it would be the album’s epic closing cut “Goodnight, Travel Well”. That said, seven minutes on a greatest hits compilation where most of the cuts trend under five might be a stretch.