It’s been a fair few years since Brandon Flowers first struck out on his own with his debut album, Flamingo, back in 2010, but he’s about to return to his very own beaten path in the desert with his second solo album, The Desired Effect. While there’s been a Killers album in between – 2012’s Battle Born – the band hasn’t been as prolific in recent years as it was at the start of its rise to notoriety, so it looks like fans will have to settle for Flowers’ upcoming solo effort as a stop gap, but will it frustrate more than it impresses?
Set for release on CD, digital download and vinyl on the 18th May 2015 its already starting to sound like another slightly new direction from the Las Vegas singer, songwriter and musician. Three tracks have been released in advance of the album hitting the shelves and the bad news is that there’s not really that much in the mix at the moment to suggest that it’s going to be all that great or good, but with the Nevada-based “messenger” there’s always at least a little to look forward to.
If we’re honest, we’re always going to try to forgive the Killers and their front man for any of the wrongs they do, because if you look back on their back catalogue there are a lot of hits wrapped up in the softer padding. Admittedly, they’ve never really reached the heights of Hot Fuss and Sam’s Town, and a lot of that is down to their move away from indie rock and roll, but even post 2006 there’s been more than enough quality to survive the test of time. Even Flamingo had its redeeming features, but unfortunately a lot of what made it stick in your throat is back on The Desired Effect.
Our pick of the three songs released already is the 80s infused Lonely Town, which is laden with electric synth interplay and trumpet blasts. It gets up to a head of pastiche steam that just crosses the line far enough for it to be so bad it’s almost good, and it’s hard for any 80s child not to listen to the track or watch the music video without a smile creeping over your face.
It’s clearly taken a little influence from Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, but it doesn’t quite come close to the sheer impact the French electro duo achieved. The video is simple and effective on the whole, featuring a girl in short denim high waisted shorts dancing around her house to the Brandon Flowers track played on her cassette Walkman to place it firmly in the 1980’s. However, even here it doesn’t quite leave you to enjoy the sheer fun of the track and video as it cuts to a weird voyeuristic section that seems to spy on the dancer from outside her window.
Despite his obvious efforts, the other two tracks, Still Want You and Can’t Deny My Love, end up feeling a bit cringy, both in terms of their lyrics and the music videos that have been produced to accompany them. The first is a mash of random references to the global financial crisis, nuclear arms fear, crime, climate change and massive scale disasters with a simple music backing, female vocal accompaniment and what sounds like an unwavering faith in his religion. The latter is pretty bad on a number of counts too, including cheesily romantic lyrics, a bizarre and melodramatic video and overly affected and echoing vocals.
Self indulgence is probably the biggest bane of an established artist and you’ve only got to look at Mick Jagger’s flirtation with disco to see how bad it can get. Having listened to each of the three songs, and made it through the odd aberration of their accompanying music videos, we can safely say that it’s starting to look as though Flowers might be falling foul of a similar affliction with his latest solo effort, especially in the period drama oddness of the Can’t Deny My Love video.
There was a time when the concept of a Brandon Flowers album would have filled us with a little more hope than it does today, and in all fairness there’s still a slim sliver of it left for the remaining seven songs on the track list below, but right now it’s just not that high. Having been knocked back by some of the more negative aspects of Flamingo and Battle Born, in particular the religious overtones, which seem to continue on The Desired Effect, we’ve officially lost any real faith in the possibility of a return to the high life of Hot Fuss.