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REVIEW: You've got to hand it to Killers frontman Brandon Flowers: He's always done things his own way. Growing up in Las Vegas (the adopted home to both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley), when his friends were buying records by Tool and Nirvana, he held true to the English bands he loved, groups like New Order, The Smiths, Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode.
Later, as he rose to prominence with The Killers, he boldly proclaimed his lifelong membership in The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, making him, besides The Osmonds, one of the few Mormon rockers to go public. (Quibble with the definition of The Osmonds as "rockers" all you want - Crazy Horses is heavy to the max.) Beyond that, he's one of a handful of men who has recently sported a moustache unironically and gotten away with it.
Call him a dandy, call him a poser, call him a peacock (he's all of those things and would probably welcome each tag enthusiastically), the fact remains that, with his irresistible mix of dancey synth-pop fused with dashes of heartland rock, he and the rest of The Killers (guitarist Dave Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci) have carved out a unique niche in the music world.
Flamingo is Flowers' first solo album, and it's a doozy of a debut. Strangely, it wasn't intended as such: The singer-bassist-keyboardist had been writing material for what he assumed would be a new Killers record when the band suddenly announced they were taking a year-long hiatus. Rather than bask in success in his desert digs, Flowers enlisted producers Stuart Price (who helmed the band's 2008 smash Day & Age), Pearl Jam and Springsteen knob-turner Brendan O'Brien, along with U2 sonic craftsman Daniel Lanois (not to mention guest musicians such as Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis, as well as drummer Vannucci) to create a dizzying collection of musically daring songs that deal directly with - to bum a phrase from Depeche Mode - faith and devotion.
In many ways, this is a record that The Killers simply couldn't have made - it's too personal and confessional, too immediate; and even in its quietest moments, it's an insidiously believable, soul-stirring event that never goes soft.