Album of the week: The Desired Effect by Brandon Flowers - a talent blossoms
Taking another break from his rock star day job as The Killers' frontman, Brandon Flowers further explores his 1980s pop leanings on his second solo album in five years, The Desired Effect. The follow-up to 2010's Flamingo contains more hooks than a fisherman's tackle box and you'll be lucky if you can get the catchy choruses out of your head for weeks to come.
Of course, Flowers and his Las Vegas buddies are no strangers to a huge sing-along pop song or two: their debut Hot Fuss burst onto the scene in 2004 with a collection of arena rock anthems inspired by the singer's fascination with Morrissey and British indie music.
Without his bandmates and guitars in tow, Flowers shakes off his Springsteen and Bono-wannabe shackles and bathes in the neon lights of synth-dance pop.
Brooding lead single Can't Deny My Love begins like a lost track from the Top Gun soundtrack before it takes flight on a wave of electro-synth and a soaring spine-tingling chorus that shows off the very best of Flowers' vocal ability. The '80s influence continues with I Can Change: the song - with backing vocals from Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant - samples Bronski Beat's 1984 club hit Smalltown Boy as another infectious chorus burrows its way under your skin.
The gospel singing and digital hand claps of Still Want You just manage to stay on the right side of cheesy before Flowers gets the hearts swooning with the tender ballad Between Me and You. Only the Footloose-lite Diggin' Up the Heart pushes the retro boat out into torrid waters.
In the glitter and glamour of pop stardom, Flowers has blossomed.
Brandon Flowers by The Desired Effect (Island Records)