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Music Review: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

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The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers made his solo debut with Flamingo in an attempt to quell listeners until the band’s hiatus ends. But much to everyone’s surprise, this album does not even compare to the band. The lengthy 40 minutes of sub-par songwriting in Flamingo leaves you wondering when exactly all the agony might stop.

Flowers attempts to delve into his Springsteen roots by referring to subjects like devils, angels, lost love, and anything and everything in between. His continuous deep, meaningful statements leave no space for any type of softer, filler subject. With each song, the album sinks deeper into dramatic, cliché lines and statements.

The album begins with “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas,” “Only The Young,” and “Hard Enough.” The sheer similarity between these tracks suggests that perhaps the album would have been off to a better start had Flowers simply compiled those three songs into one. Flowers uses stereotypical subjects in “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” such as neon lights, palm trees, and gambling, saying things such as, “The house will always win.” The only difference between “Only The Young” and this first song is that “Only The Young” has a slightly better melody than does the first one.

“Hard Enough” features singer Jenny Lewis, but fails to give her the recognition she deserves. Instead of being a true duet, Lewis’ voice simply sinks into background vocals.

“Jilted Lovers And Broken Hearts” contains one of the most upbeat tempos in the album, but Flowers’ cliché lyrics, such as “Why did you roll the dice? Show your cards?” does the song in. “Playing With Fire” begins with a lengthy two-minute guitar intro that consists of the same four-note riff being continuously played in different pitches.

After a few more unmemorable tracks pass, the chiming bells of “Crossfire” give hope to a better song. The simple melody of the verses actually works in favor of the song, and the chorus is reminiscent of The Killers.

The album ends with “Swallow It,” a naive-sounding tune that Flowers attempts to make something more of. The music is just as generic as any other previously mentioned song on the album.

It was clear from the beginning that Flamingo was not a project that Flowers was exceptionally excited about creating. But perhaps Flowers has now rejuvenated his songwriting style and ideas and maybe the next The Killers album will be better than anything the group has produced thus far.

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About Alec Cunningham

  • Joe

    With all due respect, I disagree with this article. The album may have some cliché lines, but there are also others that really spark thought (“sometimes dreams are all you’ve got to keep you going when the day gets long,” “Rolling river of truth, can you spare me a sip? The holy fountain of youth has been reduced to a drip.” This album has references to religion, relationships, and tradition that are simply ignored in this article. If you’re looking for an album that sounds exactly like The Killers, Flamingo may not be for you. If you’re looking for a departure from The Killers with a few stylistic similarities, you very well may enjoy this album.

  • Victim Blue Eyes

    Brandon has done what any artist that does a solo should do…he created his own style. No, it doesn’t sound like the Killers and that should be good. He is a creative individual with strong religious beliefs and family values. He shared that with us on Flamingo (thanks Brandon). Brandon sings of his faith, his hometown, and if you know about his life, the recent death of his Mom and the values she instilled in him. ‘On The Floor’ is about Praying. Although I am not religious, let alone Mormon, I praise ANYONE that can sing about their beliefs and NOT care what the world thinks a Rock-Pop star ‘should’ be like. So is this album mellower than the Killers ablums…yea. Flamingo was created by Brandon’s deep emotions. I love it. I am blessed to be able to see the Flamingo Tour for the 3rd time in April. He is a brilliant lyracist and performer.

  • Savannah

    I strongly disagree with your review as well. Though it is true that Flowers strayed from his synth-pop Killers style in this solo album, that does not constitute “sub-par songwriting,” not to mention “agony.”
    The cliché lines cited from “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” can otherwise be seen as an extended metaphor comparing heartbreak to gambling and blackjack. In this light, these lines highlight Flowers’ emphasis and strong attachment to his Las Vegas roots, which he greatly values. Such references to his hometown and inspirations are commendable, rather than “stereotypical.”
    In addition, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” “Only the Young,” and “Hard Enough” are far from being as similar as they are dismissed to be. Besides the vast harmonic differences, the subjects, melodies, and timbre of the three songs vary hugely.
    As for the criticism of “four-note riff being continuously played in different pitches” at the opening of “Playing With Fire,” I believe that one’s personal impatience is a vice, and NOT a basis for negative comments.
    Furthermore, to dismiss over half of the album as “a few more unmemorable tracks” is to highlight one’s own inability to appreciate music. The reference to “Swallow It” as “a naive-sounding tune that Flowers attempts to make something more of” further emphasizes one’s ignorance of sophisticated music compositional vehicles and artistic stretches. Flowers utilizes uncommon intervals in order to create a degree of uniqueness in this track, and extends his vocal range impressively.
    To call Flamingo “a project that Flowers was [not] exceptionally excited about creating” is to disrespect the immense personal element that Flowers has invested in this album.

  • Audrey

    I understand that everyone has their own music prefences, and it’s fine if you didn’t like Flamingo, but to say that Brandon Flowers wasn’t excited about creating it is a bit much I think. You only have to watch a couple interviews with him about the album to know that he was pretty stoked about Flamingo.

  • Leonora

    I disagree with most reviews about this album. This album is gorgeous! I am so glad Brandon Flowers believes in himself, because his fans and those on his side believe in him too!
    Thank you Brandon Flowers for writing such beautiful songs! Please do it again! :)

  • Catherine

    I don’t have any problem with Brandon Flowers writing about religion, Las Vegas and his spiritual side (in fact it is a relief to hear a popstar singing about anything other can sex). He said in an interview that he is trying to put a more “positive force” in his songs, and that as a result he doesn’t write about his more ‘sinister, sexual’ side. This is an admirable sentiment.
    The horrible, sad problem is that Brandon Flowers simply does not write lyrics as well when he is talking about religion. On Hot Fuss, he wrote about sex and murder, and his lyrics could be quite witty (“jealousy, turning saints into the sea”, ‘while everyone’s lost, the battle is won’).But as soon as he started focusing on religion as his main topic (eg around sam’s town time) his lyrics started to get cliched and almost cringeworthy (the very title “jilted lovers and broken hearts”, “caress me in your velvet chair”…etc).
    I want him to improve! Think about what Ernest Hemingway said: “big emotions [don’t] need big words …there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use”. One of the most touching sentences in Tolstoy’s Confession (when describing a suicidal state of fear and depression about his inability to find the true meaning of life) is: “I did not even wish to know the truth because I had already guessed what it was. The truth is that life is meaningless.”
    Simple words have more impact. Brandon could write much better lyrics if he didn’t try to make them so grand.
    (and by the way I know that my writing in this post is overly long and is not excellent.)
    Also, I wonder if a desire to put forward a positive force by totally abandoning writing about one’s darker side might end up hurting him as a lyricist in other ways – maybe by creating some sense of dishonesty that hurts the sense of sincerity in the lyrics (although I don’t doubt that they are sincerely felt, but a lie of ommission might suggest this). Also I don’t think it’s necessary to completely abandon writing about your dark side to put forward a positive message. Almost everyone has some sort of internal struggle between their lofty ideals and their animal instincts. Depicting the struggle between both these things (which means mentioning both) might make his writing more touching. Because it’s the struggle that is human. (Only putting forward your religious side can come across as being preachy or alienate your listeners.) But more importantly, describing your struggles show how hard you fight to be good which can highlight the importance of goodness,”positivity and optimism” (in Flowers’ words).