Las Vegas, the city of delight and sin, has always been a niche for superstars. From the Rat Pack to Elvis Presley to C?line Dion, the list is long and glittering. Brandon Flowers, a Las Vegas native and the frontman for the Killers, reinforces his standing on the city’s heavyweight rankings with his debut solo album, appropriately named Flamingo, after the famous Vegas hotel and casino.
The album, a mix of that good old alternative rock with pop, electronic, and ballad-type tunes, is reminiscent of Sam’s Town, though with less guitar and way more synth.
Flowers’ smooth, heartfelt tones compliment the keyboard and 80s-style beats, producing a song for almost every mood. Dance your night away to “Magdalena,” or hit single “Crossfire,” chill out with “Only the Young,” the follow-up single, or muse over loss and salvation to “Playing with Fire.”
“Hard Enough,” features the sweet, melodic vocals of Rilo Kiley’s singer, Jenny Lewis, yielding a lovely sound, though the song itself is not particularly exciting. So, if you’re looking for a mega anthem like “Somebody Told Me” or “Mr. Brightside,” which the Killers are so gifted at producing, the album might very well disappoint.
However, a new kind of indie staple may emerge from the catchy and genuine tunes that are just as satisfying to dance and jump around to, whether in front of the mirror or at a club with all of your friends. Influences from British pop such as Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and New Order are easily heard throughout the 10 tracks, and you can’t help but tap your feet or pull an un-cool, “dad” dance move.
That the album was released in the UK first, and the fact that he is touring in the UK initially, further shows Flowers’ ties to the British. Unfortunately, that means in order to witness Flowers unbelievable stadium-filling presence, you’ll have to make a trip across the pond, though it might just be worth it.
While some songs are Killers-esque to the bone, even featuring fellow band member Ronnie Vannucci on the drums, the album retains somewhat of a unique Flowers flair. The album was initially intended to be a Killers collaboration, though with the band members’ desire for a break, Flowers decided to proceed on his own. The show must go on, after all.
Consequently, Flowers’ opens his heart and life to his fans through this highly intimate album. We learn about Las Vegas and what happens: “When the lights go down in the city, and everyone goes to their room/Walking the trail to dreamland.” He gives us a piece of his soul, which might have been impossible without a break from the rest of his beloved band members. Like Bono and U2, or Freddie Mercury and Queen, Brandon Flowers’ talent and presence makes the Killers who they are. The album proves that Flowers can work his magic on his own, though not quite as excitingly as with his fellow Killers.
The Deluxe Edition of Flamingo features four bonus tracks, taking the album in a different direction from the main body- definitely worth the extra few dollars. Why they were left out of the standard release of the album is a mystery, making you wonder what was left on the studio cutting room floor – perhaps we will find out in a sophomore release, or even a fourth Killers’ album. One can only hope.
4 stars out of 5