Brandon Flowers - Flamingo
“Welcome to Las Vegas!” shouts Brandon Flowers in the opening moments of his brand new solo effort Flamingo. Much has been written about Las Vegas over the years of pop music. Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack created an entire genre surrounding the glitz of one of the most bizarre places on earth. But this isn’t Sinatra’s Vegas; this is Celine Dion’s Vegas. Tacky, sanitized and saccharine in it’s naïveté. For Flowers, Vegas seems to be a place of cliché where the house will always win and every stripper and prostitute is there because she’s putting herself through medical school or supporting her children from a marriage gone bad. Flowers has little to offer to the cultural discussion of either Las Vegas or of pop music in general. This album is formulaic, trite and completely conventional. For someone who grew up in Las Vegas, Flowers seems to have little interesting to say about it. Instead he languishes in silliness and prescriptive ideas about love and sex and the strip. He appears to be looking for love and a better relationship with his father and is ever in search of God and the hooker with a heart of gold. But there is no subtext here, no interesting lyrical word play – just a lot of pop cliché.
The true tawdriness of this album is just how listenable it is. It’s so clean and crisp and, like that hooker with the heart of gold, it’s daring you not to sing along. ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ is a great album opener; ‘Was It Something I Said’ will more than appease Killers fans worried that Flowers has stepped beyond; and ‘Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts’ might make you want to lose all your money at the roulette table.
This album is a true contradiction. Sloppy and boring in it’s cliché but defiant in how gloriously poppy it is. It is hard to listen to but hard not to. It may be one of those albums that sits comfortably in the middle and maybe you’ll head back into once a year hoping for more depth. It won’t be there but you’ll keep dreaming – just like the characters in Flowers’ Las Vegas.
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