For months I considered the Killers my arch-nemeses. Brandon Flowers, the front man of these adorably misnamed neo-new wavers, queasily voices both sexual repression and tawdry libertinism–hardly a surprising trait in a Mormon boy from Vegas. The almost dirty “rhyme” of “my stomach is sick” and “she’s touching his chest” that leads into the chorus of “Mr. Brightside” indicates the sort of attraction-repulsion attitude about naughtiness I outgrew at 16. But the silly video for the song, in which Eric Roberts plays the incarnation of lewd malevolence, softened me up: if Flowers’s lyrics reflect all the emotional development of a 15-year-old, well, 15-year-olds deserve some pop razzle-dazzle too. And the hooks just keep on coming: “Somebody Told Me” shoots for a mood of jaded singles-bar detachment and instead drops the most irresistibly pretentious note ever into the locker of your hot lab partner; the ominous bass melodies of “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” give shape to a vaguely noirish vignette about murdering (or not) your girlfriend (or friend who’s a girl). Plus I think it’s cute that Flowers strives to sing like Morrissey–after all, I bet A Flock of Seagulls thought they were emulating a cool band too, like the Cars or somebody. But–and I hate to break this to the 80s nostalgists out there–these guys are way more fun than A Flock of Seagulls. –Keith Harris
You gotta love the ever-mutating nature of pop music–it has a way of rendering commonly held notions obsolete. A couple decades back, for example, it made perfect sense to think of new wave and soft rock as mutually repellent genres. But on two self-released EPs, First of May (2003) and a recent self-titled disc, the local quartet the Changes makes you forget the Police were once considered an alternative to Steely Dan. Chorused-out Andy Summers-like guitar and breezy rhythms turn songs like “When I Sleep” and “Her, You, and I” into genre-blurring pop gems. — J. Niimi
These shows are part of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 40. Sun 7/24, the Killers play at the SBC East Stage at 7:30 PM; the Changes play at the Parkways Stage at 11:45 AM. Grant Park, 866-915-6552, $67, or $125 for a two-day pass. All ages.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Crump.