Brandon Flowers ditched the guyliner a long time ago, but his debut solo effort, “Flamingo,” carries that same booming, flamboyant and made-for-the-stage punch for which he is known.
After three studio albums with The Killers, Flowers branches out with “Flamingo,” building upon the band’s signature sound with a more intimate and soulful, but still highly theatrical, bend.
In a way, the whole album is a love letter to Flowers’ hometown of Las Vegas.
The opening track, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” is a tribute to the kitschy, neon wonderland of seediness and ends with a line delivered in lounge act performer’s wink: “Didn’t nobody tell you the house will always win?”
Self-aware camp is found on almost every track of the album, completely embracing the feel of Sin City while also taking the time to delve into the ambience of the surrounding desert.
Tracks like “Only the Young” and “Crossfire” play like angst-ridden tunes you might listen to while on a road trip through the Nevada Desert with the top down. “On the Floor” and “Playing with Fire” bring forth the more unsavory elements of the town with thoughts of cheap motels, whiskey and regret.
The Killers’ influence is heard the heaviest on the tracks, “Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts” and “Was It Something I Said?” Both could be outtakes from any one of the group’s two latest albums, but still sound fresh and fit perfectly in the context of the album.
Perhaps the biggest departure Flowers makes from his previous work is the pervading country twang that pops up regularly in the album. One of the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, “The Clock Was Tickin’,” is a jaunty, five minute ode to working class country ballads of long ago. Another track embracing the country feel is the lovely duet with indie goddess Jenny Lewis, “Hard Enough.”
Flowers succeeds in cementing his own identity separate from The Killers with this debut, but he still will not be everyone’s cup of tea. “Flamingo” is like that summer trip to Vegas we all dream of and makes for great listening as the warmer weather slips through our fingers.
It is a must download for even the most casual of The Killers’ fans.