Brandon Flowers’ Latest Solo Release Captures the 80s in Big Pop Hits

8 Oct

Brandon Flowers is a true American rock star. He’s the lead singer-songwriter of The Killers, which has sold an estimated 22 million albums since the band’s Hot Fuss debuted in 2004.

With the band taking several extended breaks from recording, in 2010 Flowers released his first solo album, Flamingo, which not surprisingly captured much of The Killers’ sound. Flowers has stated that the band has been heavily influenced by music from the 1980s, specifically New Wave. In addition, there’s no question that the band’s anthemic sound is also the product of coming of age in their hometown of Las Vegas — where the lights are bright and the productions are always brighter and larger than life.

Now, Flowers has released his second solo album, The Desired Effect, and it’s a very satisfying collection of well-made pop songs and stadium-sized anthems.

The curtain raises on “Dreams Come True,” a huge number that one can envision being used in a big Vegas production with dancers with big headdresses stepping gracefully down a flight of stairs. Pounding drums, a soaring background chorus, full orchestra, and Flowers’ powerful vocals drive this pop anthem forward.

On track 2, “Can’t Deny My Love,” you can really hear the 80s influence. The syncopated rhythm within a synth-disco wrapper recalls the club scene of that era.

The third track, “I Can Change,” is an example of Flowers’ gifted songwriting skills. The song starts out like it’s going to be a torch song — with Flowers’ lush vocals, piano and rich harmonies. Then, just under one minute into the mix, it shifts gears into a driving synth-pop song. And yes, that spoken voice under the vocals that sounds like The Pet Shop Boys is that band’s lead vocalist, Neil Tennant.

“Still Want You” is the big single, with 1.7 million views on YouTube. Amazingly catchy, it again includes a syncopated beat and big backing vocals as Flowers, in his most Killers-esque voice, sings “I still want you” over and over again.

Track 8, “Never Get You Right” is a mid-tempo ballad that’s a brilliant vehicle for Flowers’ sincere, confidently delivered message.

Some might say that Flowers’ songwriting is formulaic. That’s probably true. But if so, it’s a formula that he’s very proficient at and that works exceptionally well. If you want an up-tempo album to provide needed energy on a long road trip, you can count on Flowers’ latest solo release to have The Desired Effect.

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