West Hills

Album: Pressure Machine (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • Brandon Flowers was brought up in the rural Utah town of Nephi. Not all the town's population follow the straight-laced Mormon lifestyle, and this song finds Flowers singing from the perspective of one of these non-religious folks.
  • The man Flowers sings of doesn't fit the mold of most of the people who live in the religious small town. The dude sarcastically talks of feeling "free in the West Hills" when in reality he and his partner are hooked on "hillbilly heroin pills." The guy gets arrested and receives a 15-year sentence for possession of enough drugs "to kill the horses that run free."
  • Flowers told Apple Music that although he "took some liberties," he based the song on a true story. The Killers frontman wrote the track about a subculture he came across in Utah of people who don't adhere to religion. "There's this whole thing of dirt bikes and four-wheelers and beer," he explained, "and finding different ways to find your salvation, other than in a church pew on Sunday."
  • The song is the opening track of Pressure Machine, a record that documents different loves in the American Southwest small town from myriad perspectives. Asked by HMV when he nailed down the album's concept, Flowers replied, "I'd moved back to Utah and I was suddenly immersed in the geography and my senses were flooded with my adolescence in Utah. I started having a lot of memories of my time there and these characters and observations all turned into songs."
  • The topic of drugs also crops up on the Pressure Machine track "Quiet Town." Flowers reflects there on the ugly mark opioids have left on Nelphi.
  • Each Pressure Machine track starts with spoken-word interludes inspired and gathered by the creators of the US's National Public Radio's essay podcast This American Life. "West Hills" is preceded by three recordings, each giving a different perspective on life in Nelphi.

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