Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brandon Flowers' New Album "Flamingo": A Review

Many music critics seem to be obsessed with Brandon Flowers' religion and how it perhaps informs his music. I find this bizarrely voyeuristic. We're all steeped in Judeo-Christianity as it the fabric of our world. What what believes in or whether one believes in this or that is really inconsequential. Belief and reference-making are definitely not self-reflexive, necessarily. I illustrate. Bertolt Brecht, the self-proclaimed atheist, was once asked by a reporter which book had influenced him the most, His reply: "Sie werden lachen. Die Bibel." In English: "You will laugh. The Bible."

We are the product of our culture and mythology and I don't understand why religious and cultural references are seen under a microscope for some. Flowers is a musician and who he is culturally and experientially will naturally color his music. His Utah and Las Vegas roots are happily embraced by him and they do inform his music rather generously. At least, that's what one may glean from his music.

I've long wondered about the depth of Brandon Flowers's artistic ability and I'm always at a loss when it comes to coming up with an answer. He seems to have a kind of insight into human emotion that I'd generally expect from an older, seasoned, and well-lived person. In many ways, I see Brandon Flowers as one of the contributing cultural voices of the generation. What makes his relevant is his prolific creativity. Ever since The Killers broke into the music scene back in 2004 with their excellent album Hot Fuss, they have not relented.

Flowers has the kind of 'it' that oozes natural ability and rich instinct. In addition, he has that right aesthetic presentation that adds significantly to his appeal. He knows what it's like to be a performer. And not only that. He gets the extravaganza that is a Vegas presentation. (And, if you've seen him and The Killers live you know what I mean.) I guess, he gets it because, well, he lives it. He's from it. His first full album is almost reminiscent of a total work of art a-la-Wagner. I don't know where someone like him would get this kind of insight but wherever he gets his inspiration there seems to be a whole lot of it. I felt like I related to every song. That rarely happens to me. And I listen to lots and lots of music.

The track 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' is as Vegas-true as it gets. It took me back to my first Vegas trip back in 1996 and the many others that followed. The Vegas experience is not one that can be explained without being experienced and visually observed. Flowers sings of love, broken trust, youth and its departure, and love of place. The track "Jacksonville" is so well-done, I literally slipped when I was jogging. No, I didn't fall.

And the track "Hard Enough." Ah, what about this track! It's chillingly beautiful and one of the best break-up tracks I've heard in years. And what makes it so great? Well, the fact that he can sing about true attachment in such a believable way that you are bound to relate to the breakdown of said attachment, too. Ah, that, and the fact that he smartly got Jenny Lewis to sing along on it.

So, how do I review this in a nutshell in case my previous laudatory notes are not sufficient? I've been listening to it non-stop and plan on continuing to do so for a while. If that's what a first solo attempt looks like for this guy, who knows what other great music will continue to come out of this West-based, Vegas-digging musician. Brandon, you've done it again!

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's pretty sweet how some artists keep on doing what they do best naturally. He's so interesting! Thanks for the review. Am getting it this week.

Will said...

Cool. I need some new tunes so this helps.

Sra said...

I will look forward to trying out his solo stuff. I loved Hot Fuss - it was successful as an album, and not just as a collection of songs (in the sense of an album being an artform, I mean).

As to talks of his religion, I think we like to talk about anything that isn't whatever your default impression of "normal" is in a given situation. Like, maybe one would be more likely to point out that a medical doctor is a woman, or a college professor is black, whereas you wouldn't even mention gender or color when talking about a white man, cause that's the default American in most people's minds, for better or worse.