Brandon Flowers
The Desired Effect



by Goldfinch13 USER (13 Reviews)
May 14th, 2015 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I always thought that things would change…

The pull of Las Vegas is reliant on the illusion that anyone can visit one weekend and win big. It’s an idea the casino owners do little to try and curtail, it’s good for business after all. Visitors fool themselves into believing they’re special, that they can beat the system and walk away on top. It’s a belief that’s still as popular as ever which, given people’s propensity to believe in their own infallible luck, shouldn’t be all that surprising. Plus, there is an undeniable appeal to abandoning all responsibilities and commitments to embrace the high-flying lifestyle for a weekend. Essentially, Vegas is a destination built for the dreamers and the delusional.

The Desired Effect, Las Vegas boy Brandon Flowers’ latest effort, is an album entirely populated by those two demographics; everyone on here is fantasising of greater things. Interestingly, Flowers chooses to focuses on the down-and-outs of Sin City who long to escape their bad luck town. “Dreams Come True”, “Lonely Town” and “Between Me and You” all speak to a dissatisfaction from being overworked, leading to daydreams of a better life; the narrator on “Dreams Come True” imagines himself roaring out of town via limousine (an unmistakable indicator of wealth and success) whilst yelling “dreams come true, yes they do!” The album’s theme is actually concisely captured on “Diggin’ up the Heart”, a rehabilitation tale gone wrong. The song follows an ex-convict attempting to ingratiate himself back into society before inevitably returning to his criminal past. That attempt to fool one’s self in to believing change for the better is possible, yearning for a reinvention in spite of the odds, is one shared by the majority of the characters on The Desired Effect.

Escape (or reinvention) is actually the less harmful of the album’s delusions. The album hides a darkly obsessive heart underneath all the 80s pop-rock sheen, stemming from some unhealthy romantic longing. Lead Single “Lonely Town” features playful horns and the most innocuous, endlessly relatable opening couplet of the year (“I’ve been working overtime, I can’t get you off my mind”) before delving into what sounds suspiciously like a stalker situation cum home invasion. Album highlight “Can’t Deny My Love” is a synth-rocker crackling with enough electricity to power the Strip that walks the tightrope between affection and a morbid fixation. Elsewhere, Flowers finds time to watch his unsuspecting object of affection all night (“Never Get You Right”), make a frantic plea detailing how he can be the right person for her (“I Can Change”) and depending on personal perspective, “I Still Want You” is either an ode to lasting love or a rejected lover unable to move on. (It’s sprightly Caribbean groove would, thankfully, suggest the former.)

The album’s sound is mainly rooted in 80s soaked anthems and it cleverly employs plenty of shimmering synths to dazzle and distract listeners from the album’s shortcomings; namely Flowers limited range and occasionally cringe-inducing lyrics. The latter is especially prominent when he attempts to adopt a debonair persona on the back end of “Can’t Deny My Love”. His limited range is only a serious problem for the ballads “They Never Get it Right” and “Always the Way it is” that appear on the back half of the album. Restraint isn’t a word in Flowers’ vocabulary which is perhaps why the pair of songs ends up being wholly unremarkable. The album lives and dies by the “bigger is better” maxim, choosing bombast over subtlety every time. This may deter those listeners looking for anything more than a good time but more often than not, Flowers adds such a palpable sense of fun to the tracks that the surface-level nature is easy to forgive.

The Desired Effect is an album full of dissatisfaction; romantic disappointment and unhappiness with ones living situation inform every song. Despite the heaviness of the central themes, the album is actually a rare triumph for style over substance (perhaps unsurprisingly since it comes from a Las Vegas native), complexity has been sacrificed for the sake of big feelings delivered broadly through big choruses. Flowers has learned one inescapable truth from growing up in Vegas though; the house always wins. The Desired Effect, however, is an album full of those who choose to believe they can beat the odds, no matter how unlikely.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 14th 2015


3 reviews for this?

May 14th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

Brandon Effing Flowers. Seeing him in July.

May 15th 2015


Vegas, 'sin city.' fucking overrated shit.

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