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Flowers plays his cards right with ‘Flamingo’

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Flower's debut ”Flamingo“ resembles 2006 Killers album ”Sam‘s Town.“ Photo courtesy Island Records.

Most people will tell you what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Obviously Brandon Flowers missed the memo.

It’s a good thing too, because his solo debut “Flamingo,” a loose concept album focusing on life and love in Sin City, is definitely worth the gamble, despite a handful of misfires.

Best known as the frontman of Vegas-based indie rockers The Killers, Flowers decided to release a solo album after the rest of the band chose to go on hiatus following their latest album “Day & Age.” Flowers, the group’s primary songwriter, had a set of songs ready to go for the next album, and decided to put them out on a solo record rather than wait for the band to get back together.

Within that context, it’d be easy to see “Flamingo” as nothing more than the next Killers album. But having a record of his own allows Flowers to branch away from the group’s fairly distinctive sound, incorporating musical styles like gospel and country that would seem almost blasphemous if Flowers was working with the rest of the gang.

The result is best typified by opening track “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.” A grandiose opening to the album, the track features guitar work and soaring melodic lines that would fit The Killers perfectly. But it’s slower, more thoughtful, and threaded liberally with themes of faith and salvation that might seem out of place on the full band’s roster.

If anything, the track calls to mind “Sam’s Town,” The Killers’ 2006 sophomore album, which, like “Flamingo,” focused heavily on Flowers’ adolescence in Vegas. At times, “Flamingo” feels like a refining of the older album, allowing Flowers to take another look back at his hometown and do it his way.

Some of these looks back work splendidly. “Only the Young,” for example, tells a tale of nostalgia and desire for rebirth with a more religious twist, and “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” seems to cover the same thematic territory as “Mr. Brightside,” but is notably more personal and heartfelt than the robotic-sounding hit.

Then again, others go a little too far out of Flowers’ comfort zone, like “On the Floor,” a gospel-tinged ballad. Starting slow, the song is a plea for divine absolution that builds to include a full chorus in the background. Flower’s heart is in the right place, but the song just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album, even taking the remainder of the religious imagery in “Flamingo” into account.

But then there’s tracks like “Was It Something I Said?”, which swing way out of the indie rock genre yet work perfectly in the “Sam’s Town” 2.0 sound Flowers tries to cultivate on this album. Sounding like “Crocodile Rock” might have if it was recorded in the ’80s by Maroon 5, “Was It Something I Said?” just shouldn’t work for Flowers, but it does — in fact, it’s probably one of the album’s better tracks.

If you’re a Killers purist who won’t be able to handle Flowers heading back into Vegas again, then I’m sure you’re not interested in picking up “Flamingo.”

But you should anyways. Except for a deuce or two, Flowers has dealt himself a pretty good hand here, and while I wouldn’t recommend he ditch the band and go all in, I think “Flamingo” is decent enough to win him this round.

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