Brandon Flowers stays close to home for his first solo CD, both geographically and musically.
The songs, originally written for his regular band, the Killers, were recorded in its Battle Born Studios with a familiar rock sound.
“Flamingo,” which is released tomorrow, is named after a casino in the singer’s hometown Las Vegas -- just one of the similarities it shares with the Killers’ concept CD “Sam’s Town” from 2006.
Flowers starts with “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas,” a reference to the landmark sign on the Strip. He poses for the cover overlooking the city in a gaudy hotel room, as if stuck in a 1970s time warp. The album is shot through with betting imagery -- rolling dice, showing your cards -- even though its creator takes no risks.
The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci is on board, suggesting the group is still a going concern. Also present is producer Stuart Price, who gave Killers songs such as “Human” a touch of Madonna-style synthpop.
For the most part, “Flamingo” opts for an epic guitar sound thanks to fellow producers Daniel Lanois (U2) and Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam), who adds a hints of Bruce Springsteen style on “Crossfire.”
“Only the Young” is a highlight, with its cheeky line “Redemption, keep my covers clean tonight.”
Flowers, 29, a married-with-children Mormon, entwines religious imagery and gospel.
“Didn’t nobody tell you the house will always win?” he asks. “Give us your dreamers, your harlots and your sin.”
The CD could be more interesting if he pursued further the differences between his religion and rock’s reckless search for pleasure. The best solo albums often emerge when stars do something different from their normal day jobs. (Example: Bryan Ferry abandoning Roxy Music to cover “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”) Flowers misses that opportunity here.
For all that, “Flamingo” is an improvement on the last Killers album, boasting stronger melodies and a breathless duet with Jenny Lewis on “Hard Enough.”
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The CD, on Island/Vertigo Records, is released in the U.S. and Canada tomorrow. It was released in most other countries last week and costs about $10 for the standard edition. A deluxe version with four extra tracks is $12. Download fees vary across services. Information: http://www.brandonflowersmusic.com/ or http://www.thekillersmusic.com/
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)