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'The Desired Effect' review: The effect is the '80s

Brandon Flowers'

Brandon Flowers' "The Desired Effect" on Island Records Credit: Island Records

The Killers' Brandon Flowers was born in 1981, just as New Wave was arriving on the shores of the American mainstream and synthesizers were being integrated into rock.

That makes him a little too young to truly remember how it all actually fit together and how that musical mini-revolution unfolded on MTV with no one really knowing where it was heading.

On his second solo album, "The Desired Effect" (Island), Flowers takes the wildly eclectic music influences of that time and imposes his will on them, crafting a collection that sounds like it could have come from that time -- without the telltale mistakes.

With help from producer Ariel Rechtshaid, of Vampire Weekend and Haim fame, Flowers bounces around '80s styles with plenty of success.

He twists Dire Straits' "Walk of Life" into the bouncy, but still guarded, pop anthem "Diggin' Up the Heart." He channels the Pet Shop Boys' freestyle phase in the charmingly mysterious "Can't Deny My Love." And he samples Bronski Beat's iconic "Smalltown Boy" for the tender "I Can Change," Jimmy Somerville's haunting howl adding another layer of meaning to the idea of Flowers' altering his personality to please his girlfriend.

For fans of '80s music, all those authentic touches are a nifty nod to Flowers' influences, but to younger fans, they fade into the cohesive package.

In some ways, Flowers is actually more effective when he internalizes his inspirations a bit more. On the spare "Between Me and You," he manages to conjure the emptiness and regret from Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" or Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire."

But Flowers most impressive move is in "The Way It's Always Been," where he goes from verses filled with Dylanesque couplets to a Beatlesque bridge, ending in a cool hybrid that nicely summarizes "The Desired Effect" by building something new from his favorite classics.

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"The Desired Effect"


BOTTOM LINE Re-creating the music of his youth in his own image


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