“West Hills” by The Killers
First off, let it be known that the titular “west hills”, as presented, is not the name of an actual neighborhood. Rather, that designation serves as a symbol. And what it symbolizes, as made most evident by the tone of the intro, is your quintessential “nice, small” community, one in which you can stay forever and safely raise a family.
However, that is of course an ideological way of describing the ‘hood which is also, as revealed, intolerant to those who “don’t fit their mold”. And it seems the overall point The Killers are trying to get at is that whereas small-town America may appear idyllic from the outside, internally not all is gravy.
And what they are speaking to more specifically is the opioid epidemic that has stricken America to the point where other artists, such as The Offspring, have been compelled to recently chime in also.
The way Brandon Flowers adds his two cents to the mix is by portraying the role of an addict who is “free in the west hills”. It is not revealed how he is regarded by his neighbors. But the first verse does allude to the notion of the vocalist perhaps being an outcast from birth.
In more recent times he has apparently gotten involved with a tenured single mom, even taking one of her children as his own. So they appear more or less like your standard small-town residents, well, except for the fact that he and she have formed a dependency on heroin, i.e. one of the more popular forms of illicit opioids.
But that said, it isn’t like they’re living on the street as addicts. Instead they ingest the “hillbilly heroin pills” for their own personal chillin’ purposes, not bothering anyone in the process.
“Free in the West Hills”
Well remember that “free in the west hills” statement that highlights the chorus? That assertion is apparently meant to be sarcastic, pointing us back to what was put forth in the intro, that everything is cool in the ‘hood so long as you don’t deviate too far from the norm, even if you’re doing so in a manner that doesn’t adversely affect anyone.
For in the third verse the vocalist is arrested, dragged out of his “own bed” even. However, it is somewhat implied in the passage, considering the vast amount he got caught with, that may have been dealing opioids also, though such is never explicitly stated.
And the overall implication, all lyrics considered, would be that he isn’t a drug dealer. And we can come to this conclusion based on the idea that on top of apparently being a God-fearing man, it becomes obvious in the fourth verse that the vocalist doesn’t feel he did anything wrong. Or put differently, by the looks of things he’s slapped with a 15 year sentence for being a drug addict.
What “West Hills” is all about
So besides the opioid epidemic it is also quite obvious that West Hills speaks to another hot topic of the day, which is the decriminalization of drug possession.
And along those lines, we can also put forth that The Killers are of the disposition that yes, throwing someone in the clink all because they like getting high is in fact BS.
So conclusively, we can count “West Hills” as The Killers’ own artistic espousement of drug decriminalization.
Some Interesting Facts
The Killers is a band of four core musicians, with the group tracing its origin back to Las Vegas. Since 2004 they’ve dropped seven studio albums.
This song was released as part of the most recent of those projects, Pressure Machine. The official date of release was 13th August 2021. Moreover, it is the first song on the playlist of said project.
Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers co-wrote this tune with Jonathan Rado. The latter also produced “West Hills” alongside Shawn Everett.
This track is a product of Island Records, whom The Killers signed with back in 2003. Thus all of the albums they have put out thus far have been under Island.