Written by Brenda Herrera
Listening to the second solo album of the Killers’ front man Brandon Flowers is a delightful surprise that strongly emulates all the elements of classic pop album from the eighties. Any one of these songs can easily stand alone as a single. With the surplus amount of catchy hooks and the simplicity of the melodies, Flowers ensure each songs has certain joie de vie that make for a memorable collection of songs. Ultimately, The Desired Effect dramatically strays away from its predecessor Flamingo, which might as well just have been another Killers’ album, and ends up sounding like the Killers experimenting with a whole lot of synth. Some moments off the album may come off as a bit dated and more like a TBT (throwback Thursday), however, Flowers’ commitment is clear and the execution in his vocals make even the most cliché parts of it worth the listen. To say the least Flowers has successfully attempted to make a vivid album that is wildly unpredictable and a strong declaration to the start of his solo career.
In anticipation of the release of this album Brandon Flowers prereleased perhaps more than half of the tracks from The Desired Effect. The lead single of this album “Can’t Deny My Love” is a bit farfetched at certain points but is saved with the short, sweet guitar riffs that pull it together. It may not have been the best option to prerelease multiple tracks like “I Can Change” perhaps because it drastically overshadows the lead single. It is the same radio friendly pop anthem you could have expected to hear back in the times of Bon Jovi and The Cure. There is nothing quite complex to be found in the lyrical content as Flowers croons, “When you’re out of luck/I’ll be what you’re looking for/Even if it’s not who I am” as he spends the whole album singing of hopefulness of love and better things to come. It’s either this or you find yourself listening to a soulful song with synth to spare that make the saddest of lyrics like, “I sleep in the pouring rain/When will you come home again?” into the most upbeat songs of unrequited love you ever heard. Most of the songs are solid all-around but a few songs feel a bit overworked like “Dreams Come True.” An important concern in any musical work is proper usage of effects and synth whereas this song constantly reminds me of something bizarrely magical that is about occur. It detracts from some of the better parts of the song such as the trumpet and guitar that are perfectly arranged side by side. It is difficult to listen to this song without being reminded why I first stopped listening to purely pop albums.
The album is far from perfection, though it is definitely worth a listen and a try for its infectious melodies that make it cool enough to listen to in this decade. Brandon Flowers clearly wants people to have a memorable experience while listening to any of the tracks off The Desired Effect. Aside from missing a certain level of uniqueness it is great to see Flowers as a solo artist take on direction that works for him just as well as what he has with the Killers. A slight level of originality can take Brandon Flowers to the next part of a successful solo career.
Key Tracks: “Lonely Town”, “I Can Change”, “Untangled Love”, “Can’t Deny My Love”