Album Review: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

14 Sep

It’s time to review Flamingo.  I’ve been waiting all year for this.  At first, I thought this album would be a group of misguided nonsense songs, so I set my mind to that, and was ready to pat Brandon on the head and put this album at the back of my CD case.  Then I heard “Crossfire” and though…ok..wait.  Maybe this is going to be ok?  And so, entered a period of hype, which I had to quickly quash, for that was what destroyed Day and Age for me for a long time.

When the :30 clips came, I listened once, and that was it.  :30 clips and I are no longer friends.  That was what ruined both Day and Age AND No Line on the Horizon for me.  I get very excited for albums, and when one knows very far in advance that an album is coming out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the hype.

Thankfully, I was prepared for this album to be a bit of a flop.  That first listen was something else.  After nearly breaking into tears a few times, I’m embarrassed to say, brought on both by the opening trio of songs, and by just how much I loved the album in general, I still wasn’t quite ready to say that it was my favorite of the year or anywhere near.  Ten days later, I’m ready to say just that.

Brandon Flowers broods in style

Flamingo, another locale in Las Vegas (Does anyone get the feeling that Brandon’s going to write an album about every casino in L.V. long before Sufjan ever puts out a third album in his United States project?), might just be Brandon’s most cohesive work yet.  A shock, especially given initial impressions of what this album might sound like.

A track by track review is probably not the greatest way to do something, but I at least want to give the opening trio a bit of a nod:

“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” – I thought this song was going to be the worst of the lot, and as it turns out, it’s one of my favorites.  It took that iconic sign one views upon coming to the city of sin and turned it into a sort of Statute of Liberty of the west.  But instead of welcoming the tired and the poor, it welcomes the down and out.  Not to sanctify, but to destroy.   It’s quite the opener into an album, which, in my mind’s eye, tells the story of someone who comes to Vegas and literally loses it all.

“Only the Young” – This song was the very first sound from Flamingo we heard.  It turns out that it might just be the best song on the album too.  A, as by now should be, patented Flowers song about youth trying to escape the bonds of their age to find their way in the world.  The album is similar to Day and Age and Sam’s Town in that, that youth will soon find that they’ll wish they’d stayed where they were.  The song is one of the most interesting, musically, on the album.  Which is a relief, as, without the Killers, I think the biggest question was what on earth a Brandon Flowers solo joint could even sound like.  Unfortunately, the album as a whole is lacking in the drum department, very simple beats replace the great Ronnie Vannucci, probably the greatest failing of the album in general.

“Hard Enough” – Jenny Lewis is featured on this one, and like I said in the opening of this review, I have a hard time saying which song is exactly my favorite of the opening trio, another stellar number.  One thing I CAN say for the music on this album is that it might be the most prominent a role the synthesizer has played on a Killers related album in some time.

As for the rest of the album, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t like it as well.   The lowest rating I’d give any song on this album is a 7/10, and that belongs to “Playing With Fire”, a heavily U2-influenced folksy ballad, which happens to be a lot of other people’s favorite track, so there you go.  The second half is peppered with pop brilliance in “Was It Something I Said?” and “Magdalena”, while the first half is a bit weighed down with ballads.  Oh, and a word on “Swallow It”.  If you’ve heard the hype surrounding it, you’re probably going to be disappointed once you finally hear the studio version.  If you haven’t heard the hype, congratulations, you’re in for a fun little diddy.

The big thing one can take away from this album, I believe, is how big of a role Brandon has to play in the Killers.  He’s not just the egotistical mouth of the band that doesn’t know when to shut up.  This album is a supreme success, I don’t care what the critics say, and it’s not coming just as a Killers mega-fan.  Ok, maybe I am, but I don’t think you can fake the emotional impact this album has on me, and that hasn’t worn thin yet, even when the album only officially came out today and I’ve already heard it five or six times >_>.

In short: The album chronicles the downward spiral of a lost young man who attempts to finds himself in Las Vegas, but loses big.  With the right track listing, this could have been a pretty damn sad album, and I am a sucker for those.  Unfortunately, it’s a jumbled mess, managing to be front-loaded even when the lead single is the 8th track.  In spite of that, the tracks far out-weigh that mistake, bringing it to the forefront of music in 2010, an already overloaded year as it is.

Final Verdict: Brandon Flowers’ Flamingo gets an 9/10.

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One Response to “Album Review: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo”

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  1. Tweets that mention Album Review: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo « An Ocean of Noise -- Topsy.com - 15/09/2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by oceannoiseblog, Ashley Wantland. Ashley Wantland said: Album Review: Brandon Flowers – Flamingo: http://wp.me/pI73I-b0 […]

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