Music Review – Flamingo by Brandon Flowers

I feel a need to give some context before diving into this review.

To say that this has been a hard semester is a bit of an understatement.  Almost all my friends graduated in May (AKA on time), so not only do I have shame that I’m behind, but I don’t have many friends left (which, unfortunately happens a lot in my life).  Most of the ones who are left are really busy – like most college students.  I’m not trying to be really emo about it, but I do get a little lonely from time to time.  Yes, I have feelings.  You can all die of shock now.

Furthermore, I had to end the first relationship of my life for personal reasons.  Without going into too many details, I’m dealing with some stuff that needs to be dealt with alone.  Obviously this sucks, but I do feel like it’s given me perspective on a whole world that before I’d only experienced through TV and movies.

And then finally, and probably most significantly, my mom got breast cancer this summer.  And while it was caught very early and dealt with very swiftly, it was still the biggest scare I’ve ever gotten, and really forced me to come to terms with death more than ever before.

But what about the album?  Well, at first I was a little skeptical.  I mean, I’m a huge fan of The Killers, so I didn’t know if a solo album was a) a good idea, or b) if it meant the end of one of my favorite bands.

My initial thoughts on the album are that I like it.  A lot.  And here’s why.

1.  It’s sad.  Some people have described it as “emo,” or “angsty,” which I think is rude.  I mean, the dude’s MOM died this year!  I mean, my mom had breast cancer and survived – which shook me to my core.  His mom had BRAIN cancer, and slowly died.  I can’t imagine what that is like.  This album is about losing people.  Sometimes it’s a break up, sometimes it’s death.  This album is about wrestling with God, having serious doubts about your faith, and being angry with Him.  This album is about returning to faith, realizing that ultimately God is all we have and we can always turn to Him.  These ideas all resonate with me very deeply right now.

2.  Going along with that, it’s REAL.  So much music these days is vapid and shallow, devoid of anything personal.  I feel like Flowers really puts himself out there with this album.  He talks about mistakes he’s made in relationships, his struggles with faith, his parents’ relationship and the loss of his mother.  Growing up, and trying to figure out what that means.  Becoming famous before being really grown up, and having to balance a family against that.  This is real, and I really respect that.

3.  It’s religious.  True, he’s a Mormon, which isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but he at least sticks to his guns and leads a life consistent with his faith.  Going solo allows him to really explore religion in a way being with The Killers couldn’t.  I don’t know if it’s because the rest of the band isn’t religious, or if they just want to appeal to a mainstream audience, but Flowers isn’t afraid to go there.  I really like that.  A couple of his songs vaguely remind me of Johnny Cash actually.  Not so much the sound but the content.  Very “I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of, but God is good.”  Way cool.

4.  It’s fun.  You may be saying “Wait, how can it be sad and fun?”  I’m not sure, but it is.  Some songs are just sad, and some are just fun, but some actually manage to be both.  It’s that blending of sad and hopeful that is so hard to achieve but so powerful if you do.  The album has got a lot of introspective beats to it, but also a lot of that synth-pop energy that I love and expect from The Killers.

So overall, what do I think?  I love it.  It’s probably not for everyone, but then what is?  If you go in expecting The Killers, you might be disappointed, because Flowers is in a decidedly different place emotionally than he was when he was in the band.  But if you can handle some sadness, I really think you’ll like it.  It’s definitely got its catchy tracks, and it’s definitely got some songs that lag, but most albums do.  So, at the end of the day, I give it a B+.  It doesn’t rank up there with the other Killers’ albums, but it’s definitely worth a listen, and a buy.

Favorite Tracks (in no certain order):

1.  Jilted Lover – A little on the sad side, but still fun.  I love all the casino references, and the synth vibe.

2.  Was It Something I Said? – Very retro, very catchy, just generally something you have to move to

3.  Magdalena – Kind of retro, really fun, and genuinely hopeful

4.  Crossfire – Especially the video which features CHARLIZE THERON

5.  The Clock Was Tickin’ – Which I think is about his parents, even though his mom’s name was Jean not Jackie

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