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Gabriella [Rating: 10]: I love everything about this album, from the more-literal-than-usual lyrics to the page of stickers that comes in the case to the fact that Beck’s credited with playing Game Boy in the liner notes. A perfect CD to play while driving with the windows down.
Best track: “Think I’m in Love”



Sam’s Town
The Killers
Disco-rockers and noted eyeliner enthusiasts attempt a U2-style transformation, featuring a musical turn toward fist-pumping anthems and publicity photos involving beards and leather jackets.

Tom [Rating: 5]:I’ll probably catch hell for saying this from my indie-cred-patrolling drinking buddies, but there was a song called “Mr. Brightside” on the last Killers album that could hold its own against anything in the U2, R.E.M., Cars, or XTC catalogues. You’d be better served by downloading “Mr. Brightside” than trying to untangle this mess.
Best track:“When You Were Young”

Peter [Rating: 5]:Parts of this album remind me variously of the Pixies, Queen, Springsteen, U2, New Order, the Strokes, and many others. For all the Killers’ big sound, though, they no longer seem destined to be a big band. The great ones have a mission, whether it’s expressed through a particular sound or just a point of view. Hot Fuss (their last album) had that single-mindedness. Here, it’s hard to figure out what they’re singing about, and harder still to understand why they’re singing at all.
Best track: “This River is Wild”

Gabriella [Rating: 7]:I’m still a fan, but I preferred the way the Killers sounded (and looked) when Brandon Flowers still wore glittery eyeliner. On the plus side, his voice, which is sweet but not incredibly strong, matches up nicely with the mellower sound on this album.
Best track: “Read My Mind”



Release Therapy
Ludacris
The inventively graphic Atlantan returns with an album featuring slightly—emphasize slightly—more introspection and less Dirty South bounce than usual.

Tom[Rating: 7]:The sparse, synthoid sound of a lot of new hip-hop reminds me of my old cell phone’s ring tone, and I have all the typical objections to bling-blunts-bitches lyrics. Ludacris doesn’t venture very far outside this paradigm, but his rhymes are genuinely funny, and the syncopated bass-drum patterns in his beats give the songs an urgency I find lacking in the bits and pieces of top 40 rap and reggaeton I pick up walking around the city.
Best track: “Girls Gone Wild”

Peter [Rating: 3]:I was disposed to like Ludacris. He was funny on that Kanye West song and great in Crash, and I worked with a woman last year who said he was a good guy. And since I’m a reluctant old man, finding hip-hop I enjoy makes me feel young, but this isn’t it. Too many dismal clanging beats, ridiculous bragging, and humorless talk about seduction.
Best track: “Slap”

Gabriella [Rating: 5]:Vulgarity can be a good thing—the bawdier Ludacris’s lyrics, the better and catchier his songs. I’m not a member of the demographic (men) that’s supposed to enjoy lines like “Let me give you some swimming lessons on the penis / Backstroke, breaststroke, stroke of a genius,” but they still make me laugh.
Best track: “Money Maker”


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