The Designer’s Drugs: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo (Deluxe Edition)

 

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo (Deluxe Edition)

Anno: 2010

 

Owing to their Vegas roots, the Killers have always flirted with the idea of being a casino band, but on his solo debut singer Brandon Flowers drowns in gambling metaphor.  Flowers opens the album with “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” where he takes in the huddled masses with the intent of fleecing them all.  “Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts” isn’t as blatant, though the references to rolling dice and playing cards paint the walls throughout this dancing romance.  The album’s best storytelling is on a dopey country tune titled “The Clock Was Tickin’” which chronicles the down and out life of a Vegas dreg with forgiving scope.

Yet Flowers advances this formula one step further and injects this Sin City story with a healthy dose of the Lord.  While this factor could send the album into a preachy quagmire, the storytelling on most of these songs is often an advantage.  A few of the lordy tracks are lackluster, the most obvious being the album’s closer, “Right Behind You.”  Musically it’s a sad and pretty work of electropop; lyrically it plays out like the “Footprints” fable.  Yet “Playing with Fire” – easily the album’s best track – is a gorgeously sparse track bearing the imagery of Christ out in the desert.  Similarly gripping, “On the Floor” plays out like a vice spiritual featuring animals out of Aesop’s Fables.

Though it’s not as immediately exciting as the Killers’ work, Flamingo is Flowers’ bold, and perhaps inevitable, break from its dance rock style.  It’s also his best work since that band’s debut.

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