Brandon Flowers
The Desired Effect


3.0
good

Review

by Sowing STAFF
May 12th, 2015 | 55 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Brandon Flowers releases a few outstanding singles. Oh, and there's an album here too.

Brandon Flowers has a penchant for making bold proclamations. Do you remember in 2006, when he announced that Sam’s Town was going to be “one of the best albums in the past twenty years” and that it would “keep rock n’ roll afloat?” Yeah…about that. The album received a lukewarm reception, and it’s fair to say that most people forgot about it a few years later – if not sooner. I suppose the old adage is true about people never changing, because in the lead-up to Flowers’ second solo album The Desired Effect, he was quoted as saying “every song will be a single.” Just to provide some perspective, The Killers’ debut Hot Fuss had exactly four singles even though it sold over seven million copies. Brandon Flowers is also a lot less relevant now than he was back in The Killers’ heyday. Despite the obvious reasons for doubt, it’s still an intriguing statement though. If he thinks that every song on The Desired Effect deserves to be a single, then there must be at least some merit to it. It’s not like anyone would go into this expecting ten groundbreaking tracks, but the possibility that all of them could be fun and memorable (the way they were on Hot Fuss) is more than just a little intriguing. When I heard the ridiculously infectious lead single, it lent credence to his claims and my expectations began to quickly mount. However, I should have learned my lesson the first time – because if there’s one thing Brandon Flowers loves more than creating glitzy rock albums, it’s exaggerating the hell out of his accomplishments.

If the The Desired Effect were a sport, it would be horseshoes. It’s entirely hit or miss, offering up tremendous wins such as the retro synth-rocker ‘Can’t Deny My Love’ and the dreamy, 80s-transposed ‘Still Want You’ alongside criminally boring duds like ‘Never Get You Right’ and ‘The Way It’s Always Been.’ Both of the latter songs take desperate stabs at filling the heartfelt ballad role, and they miss the mark to an almost comical extent. The record’s inconsistency stems partially from Flowers’ approach to songwriting, which tends to value production over substance. There are no tracks that begrudgingly earn respect because of the skill involved; it’s glossed over, sugar-coated candy rock to the maximum extent. The album always seems to be reaching for the stars, with thunderous drum beats, layered vocals, and buzzing synthesizers all simultaneously vying for the spotlight. But as we learned on previous efforts such as Day & Age, Flamingo, and Battle Born – and to quote a former colleague of mine directly – all glitz and no grit make Brandon a dull boy. Flowers can make all the exciting announcements he wants to, but the bottom line is that he’ll be lucky if three of these songs become successful, marketable singles. The pool to choose from is simply too shallow.

Let’s forget about singles for a while though, because to be honest that stuff matters more to Brandon than it does to the average listener. What you get from The Desired Effect essentially boils down to your tolerance – or lack thereof – for melodic pop-rock. There are tremendous bright spots here for those who are willing to let their guard down and indulge their fun-loving spirit. One might compare the style on this album to similar works by Bleachers, Walk The Moon, or perhaps even Fun., although it doesn’t quite aspire to those levels. With lyrics that range from pedestrian to flat out cringe-worthy, this is an album that you listen to first and think about later…if at all. Aside from the sure-to-be massive hits (seriously, ‘Can’t Deny My Love’ is vastly entertaining), it’s tracks like ‘I Can Change’ that serve as the tipping point. With heavy electronic backbeats that lend a heavy dose of dancefloor potential, it could be a hit in the right context. There’s also tracks like ‘Dreams Come True’ and ‘Digging Up The Heart’ which aren’t inherently bad but they definitely require a carefree mindset to even remotely enjoy. That’s sort of the theme with The Desired Effect. I don’t want to tell you to lower your expectations, but as long as you just go into the album simply looking for a good time (and nothing more), then chances are that’s exactly what you’ll find.

The Desired Effect falls well short of Brandon Flowers’ own lofty projections, but to be honest that’s sort of the norm. The standout tracks are strong enough to carry the album, which means that it will probably resonate with listeners who don’t mind putting up with lengthy passages of fluff in between those moments of grandeur. The throwback vibe that permeates the record is an enjoyable twist, but from an artistic, lyrical, and experimental perspective, it is still pretty vapid. This is a slightly disappointing – but still good – release from an artist who has done much better and much worse.



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user ratings (103)
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
JamesMarlon (4)
The Nostalgia Effect...

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I always thought that things would change…...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
May 12th 2015


43963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album is meh, review is meh, cover art is lol.

Tunaboy45
May 12th 2015


18430 Comments


Great review, used to be such a huge fan of The Killers. Every now and then I'll pop Hot Fuss in for the sake of nostalgia.

TalonsOfFire
Emeritus
May 12th 2015


20969 Comments


Seems like most of the rock albums that've been released this year, especially with that summary.

TheWrenKing
May 12th 2015


1717 Comments


Hot Fuss is pop rock gold, but everything else Brandon has done seems very tired

Parallels
May 13th 2015


10155 Comments


3 does not speak a "meh" to me, it means its a good album. I don't believe it is.

Parallels
May 13th 2015


10155 Comments


It's a great album, but what gets me most is that they could have had some serious merit built up if they elaborated on the original sound they had and didn't try to just make it poppier with every album

Sowing
Moderator
May 13th 2015


43963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I actually really liked Sam's Town too, but after that they really fell apart. This is better than his other solo album though IMO.

Sowing
Moderator
May 13th 2015


43963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3 does not speak a "meh" to me, it means its a good album. I don't believe it is



It is good though. The strength of the good songs outweigh the weaknesses.



Skoop
May 13th 2015


2201 Comments


Sam's Town is a good album tho

Irving
Emeritus
May 13th 2015


7496 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've got ham but I'm not a hamster

Sowing
Moderator
May 13th 2015


43963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sam's Town is a good album tho



Never said it wasn't. It's just as good/slightly better than Hot Fuss in my personal opinion.



I've got ham but I'm not a hamster



As usual, Irving wins life.

henryChinaski
May 13th 2015


5043 Comments


Can't Deny My Love is pretty decent. Will check this out. Nice write-up!

Sowing
Moderator
May 13th 2015


43963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks henry! Can't Deny My Love is by far my favorite track, but I'd also highly recommend 'Still Want You', 'Lonely Town', and then 'Dreams Come True', 'I Can Change', and 'Diggin' Up The Heart' all as secondary considerations.

bakkermaarten007
May 13th 2015


5285 Comments


Anyone else who doesn't perceive a 3 as good? For me, a 3 is 'congrats, you managed to make me add the album to my catalogue, solely because I'm not a singles guy but there's this one single of your album I must hear again'

ZackSh33
May 13th 2015


730 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

more or less what I expected [2]

JWT155
May 13th 2015


14958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've liked all the singles for this, still holding out hope that I'll like this.



Great review as always sowing.

TalonsOfFire
Emeritus
May 13th 2015


20969 Comments


Hot Fuss and Sam's Town each had a few amazing songs, and the rest was good or mediocre. They really squandered their potential on the next two releases though, which was pretty disappointing.

Froot
May 13th 2015


1910 Comments


Been wanting to check this guy out for a while now, since "Crossfire" is probably my favourite mainstream pop song of the last decade.

Review makes this sound worthwhile though. Also, mind-pos.

trackbytrackreviews
May 13th 2015


3469 Comments


YOU SAID THIS WAS GONNA BE GOOD SOWING

YOU PROMISED

JWT155
May 13th 2015


14958 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Crossfire is a fantastic song, and that music video.



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