Written By Simon Chisholm
The Killers front-man Brandon Flowers released his solo effort ‘Flamingo’ in 2010 to mixed reviews. Many critics claim that Flowers’ solo project was the same as The Killers but not as good. Despite these mixed opinions, the album debuted in the US Billboard Chart at number 8, number 5 in Australia, and went gold in the UK, with a debut of number 1. I prefer to think of this release as a separate entity to The Killers and so attempt to isolate it from the band works, all the while keeping in mind that this is a part of Flowers’ body of work that also includes The Killers material.
Let’s start by looking at the vocals. Understandably they stand out, and are obviously the focal point. I would describe the overall tone of the vocals as a kind of ‘sad crooning’. As if the album is a lament, or a eulogy dedicated to Flowers’ way of life.
Almost every song has a stand out, catchy and well-crafted chorus. These hook will be stuck in your head for a while to come, I bring your attention to ‘Only The Young’.
The melodies are entrancing. Brandon has a knack for singing melodies that rise and fall like the tide (I wanted to say ‘like rolling hills’, but when it comes to similes I can never decide). These even, symmetrical melody lines tend to hypnotize listeners. Listening to this is relaxing.
The instrumentation creates a bed on which the vocals sit. The underlying layers of instrumentation are there to enhance the melody. While the guitars and piano provide a steady rate of harmonic change, I find it fun to listen to the drums. I feel that the drummer is jamming along to the track, improvising grooves, patterns and fills that allow the songs to take off.
The pitched instruments are not only used to provide a tone and key for the songs, they work with the percussion to lock the song into a groove. Whether chugging eighth notes or drawn out semibreves, the rhythms are grooving, hard. These instruments are not only support, we also hear guitars providing some melodic themes, providing instrumental interest and filling gaps where the vocals drop.
Overall this is a likable album, albeit not lovable. There are a few kicker tracks including single ‘Crossfire’, ‘Hard Enough’, ‘Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts’, and ‘Was It Something I Said?’ Favourite track is ‘Only The Young’, for that ridiculously infectious chorus.
I don’t believe it is fair to compare this release with that of The Killers back catalogue. Sure, accept that this is a departure and an evolution from the sensibilities used by The Killers, but give Brandon the credit he deserves. This is a good album.
Speaking of credit, while the CD booklet does not provide a lyrics sheet, there are however detailed song credits. I am pleased to read the Flowers is credited as having written all of the songs, and a mere 4 tracks being co-written.
I prefer to listen to this album as background music; I find that I am easily relaxed while this is playing, providing a fix to anxiety. That being said, this can also be enjoyed when listening with focus.
If you do decide to obtain this release, go for the Deluxe Edition, with four extra songs.
Produced by Daniel Lanois, Brandon Flowers and Stuart Price. Individual track credits provided on case.
Released 2010 by The Island Def Jam Music Group. Marketed in Australia by Universal Music Australia.