Brandon Flowers


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Apparently not all the Killers wanted to leave Sam’s Town behind. Left to his own devices, Brandon Flowers rushes back to the faded facades, tattered dreams, and overheated pomp of the Killers’ second album, a divisive lab exercise in splicing the DNA of Springsteen and Echo & the Bunnymen. Flowers’ tales of West Coast losers on a last-chance power drive are pretty much the only differentia between Flamingo -- with all his neon lights and turned trick cards, it’s surely named after the fabulous casino and not the bird -- and a Killers album. Perhaps Flamingo doesn’t push its points as forcefully as it would if Flowers were backed by the Killers -- its emphasis is on atmosphere, like most records produced by Daniel Lanois -- but even without harder rhythms and prominent guitars this is cut from the same cloth as the band’s three albums, pushing surface as substance. So florid are Flowers' obsessions -- not every songwriter squeezes two song cycles out of Las Vegas -- that it’s always a bit of a shock to realize that he truly, deeply, madly means it all: his odes to Sin City are devoid of irony, his spectacle isn’t meant to have a shred of camp, his mini-epics are intended to paint him as the Springsteen of the desert. This blinkered earnestness blinds him to just how silly all this is. From Flowers’ five-dollar words to the operatic bombast, every little moment of Flamingo carries weight, which means every moment cancels out the one that came before: it’s all sequined stage costumes shimmering under blaring lights. But that’s where the earnestness kicks in and saves him: he’s the diva taking the spotlight for her solo crossed with a schoolboy satisfied with his final project, believing so much in his fussy grandeur that he almost gives Flamingo meaning.

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