Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect Review

Perhaps one of the most hyped album of 2015 was released today and for Killers frontman Brandon Flowers, The Desired Effect is Flowers’ second effort without his fellow bandmates and with this album he’s wanted to show that he can set himself apart from the band. He went on a path to create an album full of singles and that’s a big and bold task. Beyond that, he’s seemed to set out a bold statement from the off in everything from the aesthetic and the core pop sound with the help of HAIM, Sky Ferreira and Vampire Weekend producer Ariel Rechtshaid. It’s a risky strategy. To go all in with any single genre is risky enough, but to do so with pop music and retro pop music to boot is even more of a risk. It could open the door to ridicule or much like Daft Punk in 2013, end up a resounding success.

This shift in Brandon’s sound is evident in the lead single ‘Can’t Deny My Love’ which opens with warping synths and tumbling 80’s metallic-style percussion and rumbling bass lines that lead Flowers into an isolated falsetto. You are then fired into the chorus through bursts of worn and shifting electronica and crisp vocals that are cut so cleanly even for Brandon Flowers standards. The powerful backing vocals only add to the dramatics of what is an insatiably effective track as you’d expect from a man who churns out such songs in his sleep, but with this Gabriel-esque style and power in combination with Flowers’ knack for crafting a hook-laden track and you have one of the defining singles of the year so far.  ‘Still want you’ is a much more tamer affair as opposed to the electronically charged Power-Pop of ‘Can’t Deny my Love’, with brighter synth chords and soft edged percussion. The same is true with the song’s structure and Brandon’s delivery and lyrics; all reflective of a rosie devotion to someone. The track in this sense seems a little stale when next to the previous single, but in fairness it still has all of the melodic foundations of any Brandon Flowers track and the instrumentals are always offset well against the his trembling Tenor of a vocal. Aside from that it’s beauty is in it’s simplicity and you’ll probably be humming this tune for a while yet. ‘Lonely Town’ redressed the balance of the sugar coated ‘Still Want You’ whilst offering an alternative to the power pop of ‘Can’t Deny My Love’. The slightly faded production of Ariel Rechtshaid on all three tracks offers up a thin veil of continuity, but with ‘Lonely Town’ Flowers offers up a more rhythmic and pulsating track evocative of an early Eighties dance track in it’s beat with the sweeping synth drones hanging over it. His vocals act as the anchor to these instrumentals and are worked in harmony with the gospel-like backing singers; a combination that’s worked well many times before. Flowers even runs his voice through an old autotune device to hit the melodic peak more sweetly. If anything this song sounds like a marriage of Chvrches and Arcade Fire in it’s warped electronica and outright euphoria, but in reality, it’s another fine piece of pop.

‘I Can Change’ is still very true to it’s nostalgic pop roots, but offers a different tone with it’s faded and sparse opening with only Brandon’s faded vocals ringing out into the empty space of the song. This space is gradually filled by what is pretty much a Bronski Beat sample with adds that hurtling rhythm whilst layering his unchanged vocals over the top. The clean cut pop of his earlier singles is a little more softer at the edges in this case, but certainly harks back to those early dance tracks. The album opens with ‘Dreams Come True’ and matches Flowers easy delivery with a crashing and revolving instrumentation and some polished brass to boot. It’s a song that’s seems like it’s on a constant rise in a tasteful yet joyous track. Two words that don’t usually marry, even if the ending is a littler typical. ‘The Way it’s Always Been’ is a track that closes the album and it slips in some considered and steady perspectives with it’s light and obtuse electronica, soft drum sample and airy bass lines. It’s here that Brandon’s vocals can appreciated in it’s isolation whilst it sits above the instrumentation. ‘Between me and You’ does the same with a hidden build up which hits the light as the song progresses. ‘Diggin’ up the Heart’ is more like a Springsteen track with the more expansive vocals. Odd but strangely enjoyable. One thing is for certain with this album is that Flowers didn’t relent one bit in his goals. It’s pop so pure that it would bleed sugar if you cut it open. That’s what everyone appreciates about this album. It’s sincere and when he isn’t pulling off his sound with style and effortlessness, he’s embarrassing us all as we gloriously sing along with him. On a technical level those particular song’s aren’t as stimulating, but there isn’t one throwaway track on the album. A blueprint for melodic and hook laden pop music from the pop master himself.

Brandon Flowers – The Desired Effect = 8/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: