The Killers frontman, once the strutting peacock of mid-aughts new-wave revivalism, follows a less-brazen bird on his solo debut, Flamingo. Both Flowers and Flamingo are unmistakably colored by his Vegas origins, but his sound has been worn to a richer patina here. And though the album’s Springsteen-of-the-sand-dunes jangle may underwhelm many longtime fans, there are subtler pleasures in hearing Flowers (relatively) stripped of his razzle-dazzle.
It seems it’s only a matter of time before Brandon Flowers realizes his dream of a full-scale Broadway production on the subject of Las Vegas; perhaps a real American love story buried beneath layers of neon, harlots and sin. In the event that this dream never comes to fruition, he can find solace in that the score that’s already written—his first solo album, Flamingo. Pairing synths with Springsteen is a formula that’s worked well for The Killers’ frontman before, but here the Lanois production begins to grate amongst the constant God imagery and every third line being a cliché (e.g., “the house will always win”).
If Flamingo sounds just like a Killers record, that's because it nearly was. Brandon Flowers wrote these songs for his band's next album, but when the other Killers decided to take an extended hiatus, he opted to release the tracks as a solo album. That's the kind of ambition that propels Flamingo along: it's there in Stuart Price's wipe-clean production and in Flowers's heroic, disengaged vocals, which chill the songs to the bone.
Brandon Flowers gets a bad rap, and often rightfully so. His band, The Killers, seems to vacillate among musical genres on whims. The band developed a huge following via catchy Duran Duran-esque songs before severely changing direction, channeling a beloved American icon in Bruce Springsteen, whose background and ideals couldn't have seemed further removed from those of a bunch of New Wave-obsessed kids from Las Vegas.
A Brandon Flowers solo album seems simultaneously inevitable and pointless; if the other three (no offence guys) are willing to indulge their frontman’s penchant for choruses pondering deeply ungrammatical quandaries such as ”Are we human, or are we dancer?”, you get the feeling that they would equally oblige to indulge any musical flights of fancy he might have. On the other hand it wouldn’t be entirely surprising if Flowers decided that he could pursue his musical ambitions on his own, such is his self-assurance. Yet Flamingo was borne not of his solo ambitions, nor of any intra-band friction, but rather of his eagerness to get the songs which he had for the next Killers album committed to tape while the group took an extended.
Apparently not all the Killers wanted to leave Sam’s Town behind. Left to his own devices, Brandon Flowers rushes back to the faded facades, tattered dreams, and overheated pomp of the Killers’ second album, a divisive lab exercise in splicing the DNA of Springsteen and Echo & the Bunnymen. Flowers’ tales of West Coast losers on a last-chance power drive are pretty much the only differentia between Flamingo -- with all his neon lights and turned trick cards, it’s surely named after the fabulous casino and not the bird -- and a Killers album.
Plenty of artists have written songs inspired by Las Vegas (Elvis, Sheryl Crow, Gram Parsons, to name a few), but Brandon Flowers might be the first to devote an entire album to the gaudy desert city. The Killers frontman was born and raised in Vegas, which is kind of unusual, and here takes the opportunity to emulate his Americana hero Bruce Springsteen, trading Vegas for Jersey. [rssbreak] But Flowers misses the chance to tell the kind of stories Springsteen would have brought to life.
Review Summary: A sound & consistent Killers-like solo debut that is anything but killer.Most things are obvious in retrospect. Looking back, it is easy to determine whether or not you should have had that last drink, dated that girl/guy, or drafted a running back instead of a quarterback as your fantasy football first pick. At a specific point in time however, some things are not so easy to identify.
As frontman for the Killers, Brandon Flowers is best when he projects an air of boredom with his own sleaze. He’s not the most charismatic of singers, but he’s able to strike an effective ironic pose, suggesting that his disaffect runs so deep that he’s even over himself. The moments that work on Flamingo, Flowers’s solo debut, are those in which he puts that particular skill to good use.
As the frontman of the Killers, Brandon Flowers has earned a reputation for being over-the-top. This, after all, is the man who wondered, without a hint of irony, if we are human or if we are dancer, his sincerity making the question sound like a completely logical inquiry. This sincerity is largely what kept Flowers from sounding like a gushing teenager, the kind who writes bad poetry and foolishly believes he caught an epiphany in the confines of a predictable rhyme.
The Killers frontman’s solo debut takes several stylistic cues from his day job. Alix Buscovic 2010 For many, the solo album means experimentation, indulging in music that fellow band members would very probably chuck their instruments at. But not for Brandon Flowers. When he and the other Killers decided to take a year off, the group’s flamboyant frontman had already started writing their fourth album proper and, instead of pushing it to the back of a drawer while he unleashed his inner jazzman or rapper (god forbid), he carried on writing, with only himself to please.