Brandon Flowers - Flamingo

2010-10-26 09:57
In case you didn’t know already (and couldn’t tell from the tacky album title), Brandon Flowers was born in Las Vegas. And most of the way through, Flamingo is a tongue-in-cheek ode to the “neon encrusted temple.” Sometimes fun, sometimes warning.

If someone told you “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” is a new Killers song, you’d believe them. But it’s not all gaping, feather boa, moustache power-pop. Mostly, Flamingo shows off a gentler, even more eccentric Brandon Flowers.
Track one, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” sets the tone. Rising from a subdued, almost Bob Dylan-phrased opening, Flowers washes down stadium-sized melodies with a very literal jolt of cocaine, blackjack and Lady Luck.

The line “But there’s a little girl you remember back in Tennessee,” followed by a quick bluegrass lick, momentarily leaving the bright lights of Vegas behind, shows off the kind of thought and consideration that’s gone into this solo debut. Still, Flowers’ head must be a strange place to visit.

“Only the Young” drifts off on an Afro-pop melody synth cloud. “Hard Enough,” featuring Las Vegas-born singer Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), sounds like a more effeminate, Vegas version of Johnny Cash and June Carter. “Swallow It,” well, you get it… And “The Clock Was Tickin’” (deluxe version only) goes off on a full-blown country tangent.              

Lyrically, there’s a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other (and cameras in the ceiling). And Flowers still flexes grammatical faux-pas like “I promise tonight not to do no harm. I promise you babe I won’t do you no harm.” Must be the Springsteen in him. Reminds me of the IT Crowd:

Roy: We don’t need no education.
Moss: Yes you do, you’ve just used a double negative.

But Flowers’ sincerity glows like a 24-hour chapel, giving his quirky combination of Vegas croon, indie-pop, country ambition and spacey ‘80s synths a likable, neon sheen.   

Overall, the sound’s subtler and more thoughtful than The Killers. There’s less guitar. And Flamingo is less obviously catchy and stadium consuming (mostly). But Flowers’ song-writing, his over-the-top eccentricity, his odes to redemption and his unusually sincere-sounding pop melodies are hard to fully separate from the Killers sound. And if you liked their last few albums, you’re bound to enjoy Flamingo. Goes well with a cocktail umbrella.  

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