Brandon Flowers has gone on record saying he brought the songs on Flamingo to his fellow bandmates for the next Killers album and was given the brush-off. Instead of heading back to the proverbial songwriting board, he decided to indulge an always risky ego move by offering up a solo album. Alas, for every Julian Casablancas, there are a dozen Scott Weilands, and our glittery friend with lofty ambitions of becoming the Springsteen of Las Vegas doesn’t fare too well in his inaugural outing.
Flamingo is embarrassingly over-earnest from the outset, with the awful “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” riffing on the Sin City standards (cocaine and sunsets over neon lights). And when B-Flo croons about stumbling “down the boulevard crying, ‘Hosanna,’ ” with that last word rising up like a choir, the artistic bottom just drops out.
The Killers may still be music for thirtysomething guys covering up those first gray hairs and women of the same age dating young men in efforts to remain hip, but Flamingo is straight-up soccer-mom material. Religious faith comes up often, sitting there like a watercolor that has too much transparency and not enough paint. Tales of characters who met dealers, had babies, and “saved a thousand dollars for a brand new start” comes off less the Boss and more Billy Joel. That’s been Flowers’s shtick since the Killers renounced their New-Order-trolls-Duran-Duran leanings and went about seeking a more Americana vibe — which is how we got to this Sam’s Town–lite attempt at grandiosity. It’s not all bad. Current single “Crossfire” is a bright spot, and Jenny Lewis salvages an otherwise middling “Hard Enough,” but Flowers gets lost trying to showcase small-town sentimentality on a brightly lit stage.