Review Summary: The Killers front man makes an album fabulous enough to justify the moustache
After breaking the international market in 2004 with their debut LP ‘Hot Fuss’, The Killers have established themselves as one of the foremost prominent figures in modern music; selling out arenas across the world and shifting a record or two along the way. Given the number of high profile front persons who choose to pursue solo careers at some point (everyone from Sir Mick Jagger to Freddie Mercury have taken part in their own solo projects) it was never going to shock anybody when Brandon Flowers announced his debut solo record, ‘Flamingo’.
Supposedly made up of a number of songs that were surplus to requirements during the band’s writing sessions for their last release, the quite frankly abysmal ‘Day and Age’, one would be forgiven for expecting another Killers album, complete with 80s influenced synth lines and warbling vocals, and in part you’d be totally right. There are elements of ‘Flamingo’ that could easily fit into this category; the aforementioned synth lines are still there, though somewhat less prominently, and some of the tracks are even structurally reminiscent of their material. The does not mean, however, that Flowers has simply proven himself to be a one trick pony. In fact, Flowers has crafted an album that not only sets itself apart from his previous work, but that also far surpasses any of The Killers’ more recent material by some considerable amount.
The range of tracks on offer on ‘Flamingo’ is truly a highlight; from the beautifully eccentric opener ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ to the African tinged ‘Only the Young’ to the haunting anthem of reclusiveness that is ‘On the Floor’. Musically, the record proves to be somewhat more experimental and often more ambient than anything Flowers has done in the past, utilizing a number of unorthodox instruments as well as a fondness for delayed guitars a la U2 and boasting a female choir whose harmonic work is flawless. Another highlight is that there are several single worthy tracks available, with lead single ‘Crossfire’ demonstrating how Flowers is able to craft a melodically spectacular piece without compromising catchiness.
The album title and track listing alone leave little to the imagination as to what the lyrical content of the record will be. Sure enough, there are a million and one references to Las Vegas (Flowers’ hometown), casinos and the city’s culture in general, allowing for an almost party like atmosphere throughout the record, radiating all the glitz and glamour of metropolitan Vegas. Such references also contribute to the identity of the record, with Flowers showcasing his most personal lyrics to date in an often heart wrenching manner.
Aesthetically, ‘Flamingo’ is little more than a glorified Killers record released under the front man’s name to earn a quick buck or two; an area in which he is lacking greatly, of course. However, upon closer inspection, it is apparent that Flowers has taken his previous experiences and built upon them. No more are the endless filler tracks surrounded by some flashes of brilliance; they have been replaced by what is effectively a well rounded indie rock album that showcases the front man’s talent for writing and singing superbly. Perhaps there is some hope left for The Killers after all.