Lead single 'Crossfire' showed that this album wasn't exactly going to be Flowers's version of Dee Dee Ramone's hip-hop LP. Sounding like a missing track from Sam's Town, its laidback Killers-y vibe sets the template for the rest of Flamingo. On his first solo outing, Flowers has filed away the last of the band's poppy New Order sensibilities to leave just the 'Born In The USA '/ late-era Cars / AOR polished-rock side of their favoured '80's coin. Given the stadium-friendly sheen of everything here, it's no surprise to see Daniel Lanois's name on the production credits. Slickness aside, though, the impact of Stuart Price is admittedly more tricky to detect. With its floaty verses and giant, swooping choruses, Radio 2 (and every US station) will absolutely love this record.
Despite the occasional bit of wobbly falsetto, Flowers doesn't use his alone time to do anything too crazy, and his vocals are pretty restrained on most of the tracks. He even slips into a languid Bob Dylan (via ex-collaborator Lou Reed) inflection on 'Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas', 'Swallow It' and 'Hard Enough'. Special guest Jenny Lewis adds a dash of country with her backing vocals on the last of those, which gives enough variety to make it one of the standouts. Another is 'Magdalena', whose twiddly bassline and strong melody find you absent-mindedly tapping your fingers and toes both despite yourself.
Elsewhere, far too many tracks just slip by almost unnoticed. 'Only The Young', 'Was It Something I Said?', the Gospel-tinged 'On The Floor' and, despite some nifty slide guitar, 'Playing With Fire' just don't have enough about them to distinguish themselves. And that's the problem with Flamingo as a whole. From start to finish it's never unpleasant, but there's not a single moment you could even begin to call exciting. Lyrically there's plenty of scope, but precious little depth, with a particular low point being the clumsy "Roll your dice / Show your cards" metaphor on 'Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts'. A lifetime ago, Flowers & co. were unafraid of looking completely silly ("He doesn't look a thing like Jesus", "Glamorous indie rock 'n' roll", "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier", "You got a real short skirt / I wanna look up look up look up yeah yeah"). But with that came hooks galore and absurdly cool one-liners all over the place. These ten songs will keep hardcore Killers fans happy and Brandon in casino chips until he reunites with his pals, but perhaps he really does need them - to give him a jolt, and us a thrill.