If their debut owed its origins to moody, synth pop bands of the '80s like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Fall, the Killer's follow up, Sam's Town borrows more of its influence from glam rockers like Queen, Marc Bolan et al. There is almost none of the bass-heavy, neo-gothic dreaminess of "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" or the explosive catchiness of "Mr. Brightside." However, that's not necessarily bad news. With Sam's Town, the Las Vegas natives are reaching in part for conceptual grittiness and also the gold standard of pop. Whether they've overreached is not quite the point, but rather that this album finds a strong band a notch away from their stunning debut and not quite yet hitting their full potential. With the "Enterlude," the band invites us along for their little circus, although it's hard to decipher if they mean Cirque du Soleil or vaudeville. (Really, it's impressive for a bunch of boys from the desert.) The debut single "When You Were Young" bears many of the marks of a radio-friendly single -- a guitar heavy mix, loads of powerchords, and plenty of reverb on Brandon Flowers's consistently powerful vocals. There is an overriding sweetness, however, of the lyrics that match so beautifully with Flowers' emotive voice: "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus/ But he talks like a gentleman/ Like you imagined/ When you were young." Borrowing from almost everyone's book of songwriting, here they are equal parts romantic (Springsteen) and rock god (Bowie). The title track may be an inherent reference to their native Vegas and lives up to the invitation "Enterlude" extended most succinctly. If the entire album sounded like the stand out track "Bones," it would easily be one of the best of '06; the very best of what they can muster ferments perfectly here, giving their audience the greatest insight into how their sound could continue to evolve. On "Read My Mind," the band even shows impressive traces of songwriting greats Nick Lowe and XTC. The get a little help from their friends (Louis XIV) on the charming "My List," which is an admirably fabulous stew of '70s rock. Flowers shows fantastic potential as a lyricist, as on the ode to an addict "Uncle Jonny" when he laments that his "appetite ain't got no heart." As with their debut, the heavy shadow of their influences has yet to dull the glimmer of their sometimes startling originality. Still surging on the heels of their powerhouse debut, watching The Killers come into their own is only half the fun.