Rating: 3 out of 5 pitchforks
Artist: Brandon Flowers
Label: Island Records
After six years of constant touring, writing and bickering, The Killers have finally called it quits — well, at least for a little while. Yes, they have taken the dreaded hiatus.
Luckily for fans, this period of inactivity hasn’t been in vain. For Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers, the break has given him the chance to explore new creative endeavors in his September solo debut “Flamingo,” an all encompassing ode to sex, Vegas and Lady Luck.
Instead of being overly grandiose, “Flamingo” carries itself with a relatively laid back persona. No longer does Flowers croon over crunchy dance ballads. Instead, he focuses on 10 motion-weary love songs, all of which sound like the better parts of Bruce Springsteen, The Cure and U2.
But that’s not to say no comparisons can be drawn from The Killers. Flowers’ lyrical imagery still stays fairly true to his previous work. As soon as the opener “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sets in, the familiar motif of Las Vegas debauchery comes running back. Complete with big band drum rolls and a guitar solo, this proves to be a true listening pleasure.
Now, this would be great, save for one detail: The second track bears an uncanny resemblance to the first. In “Only the Young,” vocal melodies literally feel interchangeable. The feeling of musical déjà vu is simply unavoidable.
Not until “Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts” does “Flamingo” truly hit its stride. This time, Flowers opts for an intro that swirls around the listener like an elaborate peyote dance. The cacophony of tranquil loops and shamanic whispers provides the right amount of ambiance prior to the verse.
On “Was it Something I Said,” old-school influences manifest themselves. Borrowing from late ’60’s love ballads, this cutesy head over heals approach throws a wrench into the generally dismal vibes of “Flamingo.” Its vocals and jive keyboard progressions are catchy — just nothing really cutting edge.
But that’s not what Flowers wanted anyway. The appeal of “Flamingo” lies in strong synthesizer progressions and two-verse, three-chorus pop structure. Essentially, Flowers has re-gifted the styles of ’80’s arena rock. The almost retro sounds now become novel for a younger generation.
Perhaps the album’s greatest feat is the single, “Crossfire.” Its masterful buildups ebb and flow with intensity as Flowers sings about longing. Its consistent rhythmic pace puts the listener into a trance-like state, complete with airy guitars limboing seductively in the background.
Very mindful of past trends, “Flamingo” sounds like the collective tapestry of the last three decades. As a whole, it proves to be a swanky debut for the lead singer — certainly the perfect material to wet your whistle until The Killers return.
“Flamingo” is by no means ground breaking, but it’s the attention to details that makes it a winner.
Reach Dane at firstname.lastname@example.org