Brandon Flowers ‘Flamingo’ – Review

7 Sep

Pakistan and Haiti are in desperate need of aid, Wayne Rooney is going to need a body-guard on his trip to Goodison Park next week, William Hauge needs some sound PR advice and I need some sleep. One thing the world definitely doesn’t need is a Brandon Flowers solo album. I can’t recall even The Killers biggest fans (and I’m a pretty big fan) crying out for this album, and I think it was a pretty big surprise when we heard it was coming. Afterall, the band were supposed to be on their first proper break in seven years, it was supposed to be a chance for them to relax and stock up ideas for album number four. But it seems Brandon got bored, asked his band mates to make the next album earlier than expected, they refused and hence we have an album that was written for The Killers but was recorded solely by Brandon.

A lot of the ‘class of 2004’ are coming out with solo albums at the moment. Earlier in the year we had a pretty decent debut from Kele (Bloc Party), and soon Paul Smith (Maximo Park) will be releasing ‘Margins’, his first solo album. Rather than attempt something completely different like Kele, Brandon Flowers has made an album that sounds exactly like a Killers record. If you took the new wave elegance of ‘Hot Fuss’ but put it in a blender with the windswept Americana of Sams Town and the epic pop of ‘Day and Age’ then this is exactly what you would end up with.

First single ‘Crossfire’ got a mixed reception when it was first played on radio, but it hit the top 10 last week and I for one think it’s fantastic, but it doesn’t represent the album at all. Whilst that song was a more mainstream (read commercial) attempt at pop the rest of the album sticks to the more traditional indie pop/rock of yore. It has most in common with the traveling anthems ‘Read My Mind’ and ‘This River is Wild’ but at times you don’t know where exactly the songs are traveling, and you suspect Flower’s isn’t quite sure either.

A lot of these songs sound half-baked, good ideas that never really got thought out. ‘Only The Young’ sounds like a drive time rock anthem that never gets out of second gear, and ‘Hard Enough’ likewise sounds like it’s reaching for a mood that it never quite finds. The opener ‘Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas’ is one of the few songs that does sound like it was sweated over, with all the bombast of a normal Killers song. Even this though feels like a rehash of his past glories such as ‘Sams Town’ and ‘A Dustland Fairytale’.

On a more positive note ‘Playing With Fire’ is genuinely unique in the Flowers discography, with its wailing guitar and dark atmosphere whilst ‘Was It Something I Said’ is wonderful, the type of song Flowers regularly made before he discovered Bruce Springstein and should make more often. Overall there is very little to dislike about this debut solo album, the worst thing you could say is that he never steps out of his comfort zone, and a few too many songs sound incomplete or lacking something. But there is no denying his knack for a catchy melody and his lyrics are improving with every passing year.

At times ‘Flamingo’ sounds like a collection of Killers B-sides and you have to wonder if it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity for Brandon to try something new, as there isn’t really anything on here that hasn’t been done before in his day job. Up until now he’s had a flawless run of three albums, and this is the first time it’s looked like he may be struggling for fresh ideas. But at the end of the day there are three or four more classics to add to the Killers cannon, and until the next group album comes along this is a nice treat for fans.



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