Brandon Flowers: The Desired Effect

Posted May 26, 2015 by in Alternative



3.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: ,
Genre: Synthpop, New Wave, alternative
Producer: Ariel Rechtshaid, Brandon Flowers
Label: Island
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 39:02
Release Date: 18 May 2015
Spin This: "Never Get You Right," "Lonely Town," "Can;t Deny My Love"


Big leap into synth-glorified New Wave sounds using more of a pop embrace; Flowers sounds even more confident on second solo offering


Killers' fans won't find much to bite from, unless they like their beloved frontman in a solo universe. Still missing that big grandiose knockout hit

The Killers’ frontman sets out on adventure of synth-pop New Wave invasion

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

The Killers’ frontman sets out on adventure of synth-pop New Wave invasion

Why should The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers put out another solo album? The answer, my friend, isn’t exactly blowing in the wind. When you hear the type of material stuffed inside the ten-track solo album The Desired Effect, you can probably decipher the answer.

Nothing here exactly sounds like the type of compositions The Killers would pull off in a packed arena, especially without hearing murmurs of an eventual Flowers’ exit in the works. Except for the big rock-powered jam “Untangled Love,” most of these experiments can only be pulled off in a Flowers-only universe. New wave pop is the apparent focus here, and its sensibilities are at the core of its magical ride. And this is a bit peculiar when considering 2010’s Flamingo, which showcased one of the hottest sides that escaped a Killers’ album — the brilliant power ballad “Only the Young,” almost every offering aboard Flowers’ sophomore solo disc sounds different from anything poured out by Flowers’ big band.

Digging into the set, you hear Flowers keenly distancing himself from what he’s most known for. “Diggin’ Up the Heart,” clearly a polar opposite of The Killers’ music, drops Phil Specter rock ‘n roll into “Footloose” synths, while the midtempo closer “The Way It’s Always Been” finds Flowers singing like a Paul McCartney apprentice. Meanwhile songs like “Between Me and You” and the Miami Vice-sprinkled “Can’t Deny My Love” continue the ascension into airy therapeutic workouts heard on Battle Born‘s “Runaways” and last year’s “Shot at the Night” while also exploring bigger bombastic synth pop.

Above all else, what creates the drawing power for The Desired Effect is its ability to sound familiar but not exactly like past exhibitions. “Lonely Town,” in some cases, could be considered a throwback track. It hints at ’80s pop-rock sophistication, but its composition is so melodically complicated with forward-thinking. There’s stacked vocals, pounding bass drums, futuristic synths and the occasional echoey shrieks. It feels like a made-for-radio track, but it still sounds indie-focused. Then there’s the Supermode-sampled “I Can Change,” which opens with melodic brushes of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and shifts into an icy dimension of Kraftwerk-inspired synth pop. It too doesn’t sound like a cookie-cutter pop, but that proves exactly why Flowers is trying to aim for the bulls’ eye of artistic breakthrough. He’s not exactly interested in reaching for instant glory. He’s more into making a statement through ambitious musical mutations.

“Never Get You Right,” probably the album’s biggest moment, is a kaleidoscope of dreamy ’80s pop. Lyrically it shows off Flowers spinning Valentines’ poetry: “The people passing by should tremble at your side/but they’ll never get you right.” But it is the musical environment — encapsulated with “The Way It Is” legend Bruce Hornsby on keyboards — that blooms with fervent greatness, acting like an earful of potpourri to Flowers’ serenading vocal.

Sonically strong and stimulating, The Desired Effect still isn’t enough to quench the Killer-thriller appetite, so there should be no preemptive measure endorsed over a solo exodus. Flowers is good and capable of living in a universe without his Las Vegas band, but he’s more interesting living in one.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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