Newest Review: ... quite different? And if the former, is this the Killers of Hot Fuss, or something less incendiary? It becomes clear pretty quickly ... more
Flamingo - Brandon Flowers
Member Name: BRoyJenkins
Flamingo - Brandon Flowers
Advantages: Catchy songs, every song could be a single
Disadvantages: The Killers' excesses pale in comparison to some of the songs here
In 2009, at the end of a tour for their third record, Day & Age, The Killers announced they were to go on a temporary hiatus. This was a devastating blow for fans, and an even worse sign of problems came early in 2010: Brandon Flowers was to release his first solo album. What did all this mean for The Killers?
There are many people, myself included, that lament for the days when Flowers and his Las Vegas band embraced the overblown flashiness of the British new wave movement on 2004's Hot Fuss. There are others that claim he and the band were at their best when chugging out classic American rock on 2006's Sam's Town. But there aren't many, Killers fans included, that would count 2008 album Day & Age as their creative peak. Not the most universally-loved band already, The Killers suddenly sounded too safe. Day & Age lacked the bright and broad strokes of colour Flowers and The Killers specialised in. Its singles aside, the album approached blandness.
Perhaps it really was time for a break. For on Flamingo, Brandon Flowers - frontman and chief songwriter for The Killers - has created something that sounds to be made by an artist unshackled and set free to do whatever he wants. The album isn't perfection, but then none of The Killers' work ever has been. What it is is an exciting mash-up of every style Flowers has ever dipped his toe in with The Killers.
The first surprise is how Flamingo's singles aren't even the best work on the record (check all The Killers' albums - the singles always show the best craftsmanship by far). Though Crossfire and Only The Young are great tracks that once again proudly bare that Springsteen label, there are better songs to be found on the album.
Playing With Fire boasts melancholy strings and a fantastic chorus sung by a Flowers quivering with emotion. Magdalena is yet more evidence that Flowers still has within him some belting chorus-line hooks designed to be chanted by stadium-sized arenas. Swallow It is an obviously Lou Reed-influenced tune of inspired seediness. On The Floor could be the best song on Flamingo - a mournful ballad of regret sung by Flowers at his best that's easily reminiscent of late-era Presley or Sinatra.
Of course, this being a solo record, much of Flamingo relies on Flowers' talent as a vocalist. His voice is a constant delight, perfectly suited to Flamingo's dirty pop-rock.
Where Flamingo falls down is in its lack of restraint. Flowers, not a man known for his subtlety, does at times let his excesses get the better of him on this record. Was It Something I Said? is perhaps the worst offender, complete with a bassline that sounds like it belongs in an '80s video game and (seriously) a church organ. Those that are already turned off by The Killers and their significant flamboyance won't find anything to convince them otherwise here.
Overall though, this is one hell of a departure for Flowers. I'm going out on a limb to say this...but this album may be as good as Hot Fuss. It may be one of the catchiest records Flowers has had a hand in. And if you don't like it, not to worry - it's already announced that The Killers will be back in the studio in 2011. Maybe they'll create that masterpiece we've been waiting for.
Summary: The best album Flowers has had a hand in since 2004's Hot Fuss