Brandon Flowers could be the next big long term rock legend. If he’d been born twenty years earlier he would have been for sure. Today it is harder to crack longevity for two main reasons. Firstly, as Bono declared at the Grammy’s a few years ago, record companies are not as patient as they were when U2 started out in the late seventies. Secondly, and probably more important, is the pathetic attitude of the music press, particularly the British press, towards those who have made it. There is a build them up to knock them down approach that can be seen in how Snow Patrol were the lovable underdogs and then, when success came, the hated stadium band. The Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers is suffering a little from that too. The most ridiculous comment came in The Word magazine where Andrew Collins’ reviews of Flamingo and says “when has he said anything of nay real substance, in song or person? There are some bad rock journalism but, even from a total secular zone like England, this is an astonishing statement; has any music writer ever been so wrong. This is a criticism of the man who wrote Human, perhaps the most substantial lyric in a radio song in the past ten years.
Flamingo might not have anything as prophetically sit up and listen as Human but it is full of clever stories, images, rhymes and whole lot of spiritual connection. On the album’s lead-off single Crossfire he sings about being “caught in the crossfire between heaven and hell” and that might be the strap line for the whole thang! Indeed, the album is a study of Flowers’ Las Vegas, the hometown which he has obsessed about for years, and littered with characters lost and redeemed. In Playing With Fire he sings, “I've got this burning belief in salvation and love” and boy he does. One of the most insightful lines is also from Crossfire; “Tell the devil that he can go back from where he came/His fury arrows drew their blood in vain/And when the hardest part is over we’ll be here/And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear.” That last line is the spirituality’s hope of human flourishing; our imagination of alternative way to live freeing and saving us from our the frightened state of our own doing.
For those other lazy reviews that state that this is just a Killers’ album under a solo name (poor Andrew Collins is guilty again!) they really haven’t listened. Yes, the voice is distinctive and the songs are fuelled by Flowers’ spiritual images and interests but there is a very different texture to the arrangements. The band don’t fill the record in the same way. Flowers’ voice gets a little more opportunity to be vulnerable. It is not, in any terms, a follow up to Day and Age. It is a side project of intrigue and crammed with those rock pop melodies that linger all day long and into the night.