Monday, September 06, 2010

Album Review: Brandon Flowers - Flamingo (4.5/5)

It's been a slow year so far, with the first half of 2010 only delivering a handful of good album releases and only 2 (Plan B and Delphic) that I've really loved, but the fall has better things in store; Popular alternative rock band The Killers' front-man Brandon Flowers delivers' his debut solo album Flamingo and it's a stunner! In somewhat cutting from the same vein as the classic throwback '80's new wave influenced synth-rock sound we've come to expect from The Killers--Flowers also draws influences from the same stadium-rock grandeur as U2 and grandiose of Elton John, in-all delivering stunning mash of alternative rock stretched over layers of imperturbable pop influences.

Kicking things is off is the dark "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" a muddy guitar-backed ballad bridged over poignant piano keys and crumbling percussion. It's a pleasing opener, setting the effective yet cold and brittle tone for the first half of the album also a nice set-up for the trembling drum-fronted "Only the Young" serving up a haunting string induced arrangement (almost re-calling the same haunt as hip-hop trio The Fugees' "Ready or Not) topped off with Flowers' bold layered vocal work on the chorus. The psychedelic U2 rock inspired "Hard Enough" doesn't hit as hard as it should, falling a bit short on its chorus but it's still a winner.

"Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts" pulses with an eclectic mash of progressive guitars, drums and piano keys and a knock-out chorus, which sounds very dilute alternative pulled over a pop/country-esque composition. I loved this off the first listen. Next up is the albums longest track "Playing With Fire" a brewing guitar and drum backed ballad with a subtle kick, I also like the emotional opening lyrics ("Daddy I'm not gonna tell you that I'm sorry/I'm not here to know the things I cannot do, we've seen the outcome of the boys who didn't fly") Its poetic approach its lyrics arguable makes it the most lyrically appealing track on here.

The first half of the album deliverers a series of dark and brewing ballads, so it's only right that the second half offers some upbeat alternative pop/rock. "Was It Something I Said" ups the tempo, kicks up the drums and guitars into high-gear; trailing off its high spirits; "Magdalena" is a jaunty, maraca struck tune, following is the almost as upbeat popular lead single "Crossfire" drenched in glossy rock inspired synths, twinkling mash of guitars, drums and the whole sha-bang and also a first top 10 for Flowers.

Calming things down is "On the Floor" is mild lovely ballad, very mellow and introspective. I still haven't quite worked out what closing track "Swallow It" is actually about lyrically ("You could not swallow it, baby your not ready slow down") but it is a nice warm mid-tempo--a nice close to the album.

Flamingo could have been a bit broader in its sound and slightly more cohesive but Brandon Flowers delivered an amazing debut album, showcasing himself as true showman--exhibiting strengths as a solo artist; Flamingo doesn't directly drain from the same sound as The Killers but there are some moments which enough to differentiate the album from the stuff The Killers have released but it's just as good as anything the rock band have put out and definitely one of the best this year.
Best: Crossfire, Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts, Was It Something I Said, On the Floor, Magdalena


Paul said...

i'm loving it - i know it has it's critics but i just find it utterly wonderful :) I could easily pick at least 5 singles from here so i'm intruiged to know what the second single will be :)

J.Mensah said...

Me too! There's at least four songs I'm thinking could make good singles (I want the talent of predicting singles now lol).