Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect – Review
Brandon Flowers is renowned for being the somewhat enigmatic lead singer of The Killers. Whilst this isn’t his first foray with solo pursuits, this seems to be a more building upon his debut release, Flamingo, which had killer tracks like ‘Crossfire’. Five years on from that, Brandon reminds us just why he’s not just a front man, he’s a music genius with notable talents for producing tracks that are both capable of standing alone but also manage to tie together and create this beautiful harmonious sound. The Desired Effect seems to be the very epitome of that, a quilt of experiences, loves lost, tribulations, and striking choruses that not only mark Flowers as a fantastic singer but also songwriter. The album release on the 15th of May will be followed by a full European tour kicking off in Ireland at The Olympia Theatre Dublin on May 19th.
‘Can’t Deny My Love’ has this delightfully alluring element to it, an air of forbidden love with a pulsating beat that gives it a sense of dramatic lust with a tinge of urgency. The contrast in how it sounds in comparison to ‘Dreams Come True’ is rather striking; the latter of the two is far more uplifting, not unlike the style of ‘Crossfire’. Flowers has always appeared engrossed in the Wild West, submersing his music and style in that and it becomes even more prevalent in this track, it’s got these big, booming trumpets, and a sort of gritty western feel to it that grows and grows. ‘I Can Change’ has a more celestial, sombre tone to it, Flowers is gracefully able to move between musical genres in a single beat. This track’s simmering quality allows one to appreciate the brilliance and delicate timbre his voice possesses, even more striking was the subtle sampling of Supermode’s ‘Tell Me Why’. Again, in a matter of seconds the entire nature of the song had been changed with one deft movement, Flowers has clearly taken the five years since his last solo release to hone his songwriting and producing abilities.
‘Still Want You’ is another track imbued with uplifting vocals and lyrics; if we see The Killers’ music as songs about the decline of small towns, and love interests of times gone by then, The Desired Effect marks a concerted departure from that sombre style. Admitting that the last Killers album ‘had its moments, but wasn’t good enough’, Flowers clearly sought to create a track that was filled with optimism, one that looked forward rather than back. Even ‘Lonely Town’ and ‘Untangled Heart’ which should have that very solemn feeling that The Killers are recognised for are both given a boost of pumping vocals, you can hear it in Flowers’ voice – there’s a renewed optimism in this album.
Its tracks like ‘Diggin’ up the Heart’ that drive home this reality of change, Flowers unravels all previous conceptions of what he’s about. He’s created glitter soaked indie anthems and cow-boy based nonsensical songs, and yet he’s still able to make something fresh, something that proves just how multi-faceted he is. This tracks again pulsates with optimism, the guitar shimmers in the background with a new passion, and Flowers’ voice is full of promise and hope, just like his new album.
People are quick to assume Flowers only has one facet, a cowboy boot, eyeliner wearing frontman, but in reality he’s a gifted songwriter. He knows how to create a three minute track that can perfectly relate to ever love lost and tribulation you’ve ever experienced, an yet he manages to give it sanguinity, a burning passion, and hope. Some may find it hard to understand why it took him five years to release more solo work, but a single listen explains it all – for him it was all about creating an album full of killer tracks, no filler.
Review by Elaine McDonald