Friday, August 28, 2015

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

What do you picture when you picture Las Vegas? Glitz and glamour? Bright lights and big wins? Roman-themed gambling palaces? If so, Brandon Flowers has news for you...

I bought Hot Fuss, the first Killers album, shortly after its release in June 2005. By December, I had grown tired of it, and so I sold it to D'Vinyl Records (along with Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head) in exchange for a copy of Mogwai's Come On Die Young. A good upgrade, you might think, and you'd be right.

But I quickly realised that I missed Hot Fuss. I saw dozens of cool music people telling the internet how rubbish The Killers were, and I missed Hot Fuss all the same. I missed Hot Fuss right up until the day when I purchased a second-hand copy of Hot Fuss and re-added it to my collection, refilled the gap that had opened up in my heart when I sold my original copy to Mr D'Vinyl for £3 off a Mogwai CD.

All of which is apropos of nothing, really - I just want to make it clear how much I like The Killers. I like their big choruses, I like how they're not ashamed to be a bit cheesy when the song demands it, and I especially like that they recorded a Christmas song with my name in it:

The 25th of December is less than 4 months away, folks.

And so I recently decided to find out whether or not Brandon Flowers's solo stuff was as rad as his group efforts. Flamingo got some pretty mediocre reviews when it first came out, but given that you can get a used copy for 48p on Amazon nowadays, I figured it was worth a go anyway.

Flamingo is less bombastic than the average Killers record, but it's still a helluva good listen. It may, however, come as a bit of a shock to anyone who imagines Las Vegas as some kind of glorious party paradise - here's a lyrical excerpt from the album's opening track, Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas:
"You woke up in the rusted frame of a burned-out old DeVille,
Your legs are shot, and flushed with pain, but you can't keep 'em still,
The sun sets and you're afraid of that itching in your skin."
See what I mean? And this tone is continued pretty much throughout the album - it's not so much Viva Las Vegas as it is Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. BF's songs are peopled with desperate, broken-hearted dreamers, and Sin City's glitter looks harsh and hopeless as it lights the stage on which this all takes place.

Las Vegas made a promise to these characters, and that promise has been broken. All they can do now is look wistfully on, their eyes still dazed by the light of the casino signs, as the city that betrayed them makes that same hollow promise to another batch of wide-eyed suckers.

No comments:

Post a Comment