BRANDON FLOWERS Flamingo (Island/Universal)
I must confess that I’ve never been much of a Killers fan. This has more to do with the fact that I am a first generation post-punk lover than anything else and just could not get into the warmed up post-punk leftovers that the Killers were getting rich and famous on. But totally from an objective perspective, I can understand where they’re coming from and would still prefer kids to go mad over the Killers music over something vacuous like Justin Bieber, anytime.
Brandon Flowers’ debut solo album is in all respects a Killers record except in name. The penchant to combine Flowers’ love for 80s North American anthemic rock (viz. Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellancamp, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi) with 80s synth pop (Pet Shop Boys, Ultravox, Depeche Mode) into modern rock ditties is be admired, I suppose, rather than disdained.
Flowers has astutely brought in two producers who know a thing or two about 80s music – Daniel Lanois (who has worked with U2) and Stuart Price (who has worked with Madonna, Pet Shop Boys and New Order) – to deliver a record that balances the two above-mentioned musical poles into a digestible mix.
The album opens with the almost Dylanesque epic Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas (by way of Springsteen of course), which sets the tone for the rest of Flamingo – sprawling arena pop-rockers, heavy on the twang with the slight synth pop inflections to keep things intriguing. Song-wise, the melodies are not immediate but give them enough time and they might ring your bell.
By the time, you get to the slinky blues of Playing With Fire, the bouncy pop throb of Was It Something I Said? and the breezy ABBA-esque splendor of Magdalena, Flowers has done enough to make Flamingo better than your average Billboard Album Chart entry. The closing Swallow It is an impassioned electronic plea for normalcy and a comfortable exit stage left.
However, this Deluxe Edition contains four more tracks which rather undoes the carefully worked atmosphere of Flamingo with self-contained songs like the country-folky The Clock Was Tickin’, the synth-poppy Jacksonville, the corny limp I Came Here To Get Over You and the post-punk revivalist Right Behind You. All forgettable, sad to report.
For fans of The Killers, obtaining Flamingo is a no-brainer. But you already knew that…
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