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Album review: Brandon Flowers - Flamingo (Vertigo)
Brandon shows his true showman colours on a drivetime tribute to Vegas that steers for the MOR
‘Flamingo’ is a soft-rock, drivetime radio album that opens with tumbling pianos that sound like a pisstake of ‘Thunder Road’ (in other words, like Meat Loaf) and Brandon bellowing “WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAAAAAAAS VEGAS!” A soft-rock, drivetime radio album that finds Brandon dealing in the most clichéd gambling imagery imaginable (“Roll the dice!”, “Show your cards!” goes ‘Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts’), or doing the Americana dirty-ol’-road storytellin’ thang (‘Was It Something I Said’). On ‘Magdalena’ he bellows histrionically about “60 miles of sacred road” and “prodigal sons”, while a multitracked Brandon does his best Bono “oohh-oh”s in the background. And then he’s going on about redemption (‘On The Floor’) with the aid of a gospel choir. If all this sounds like a spectacle on paper, then… well, that’s the problem. This album sounds like an ‘on paper’ album. In other words, there are loads of theoretically big, bold, stupid ideas here, but when actually recorded, rather than sounding ridiculous, they just sound like insipid pea soup. And if you’re going to roar loudly about how you’ve “got a burning belief in salvation and love” (‘Playing With Fire’), you need to not sound like insipid pea soup.
Maybe he’s timed it just right: maybe a world that can’t seem to get enough of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ will eat this schmaltz up with a spoon. In fact, sonically, ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ is exactly where this album is at: Brandon’s solo journey has led him to Journey. Many people who have heard ‘Flamingo’ have said it sounds a lot like a Killers album. Wrong. It is more that The Killers’ albums sounded like Brandon Flowers solo albums, with a bit of indie guitar on top to snare those Reading & Leeds headline slots. That trick worked. But this trick is unlikely to do anything except have him running back to Ronnie, Dave and Mark in search of the vaguest of edges.
Click here to get your copy of Brandon Flowers' 'Flamingo' from Rough Trade Shops.
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