For me, Brandon’s last solo effort, Flamingo, was too much like The Killers. When you take a break from your band and go solo, I’m a strong believer that you need to release something different, otherwise what’s the point? Thankfully, that’s exactly what Brandon has done on new album The Desired Effect, picking up on 80s fuelled pop, bringing in influences form his favourite artists of the era and working his magic like a man possessed by an entire decade.
As the horns on Dreams Come True fade in, you can tell this record is going to be something special. Like many of The Killers opening tracks, Brandon’s voice draws you in, begging you to not only listen to the music, but pay attention to the lyrics from the off set. His ability to wrap words around a beat that leaves you helpless but to fall for his charm and swagger is why he’s got to where he is.
Lead single Can’t Deny My Love is the 80s incarnate. It’s everything you remember and more as it hightails off into mesmerizing synths, Duran Duran guitars and New Order dystopian passion; think the madness of classic children’s movie Labyrinth, set against the style and sultry swagger of Prince. I Can Change is also worth a mention, actually sampling Bronski Beats Smalltown Boy and getting away with it in a brilliant way. Pet Shop Boys influences rise above the music as Brandon’s clipped and boyish vocals drive the song better than Suggs in a Jaguar (or not quite a Jaguar).
You can almost taste how much work and love has gone into this record the deeper you delve. Brandon has really thrown himself in headfirst and it comes out in the music, none more so than on Untangled Love. Beating drums lead into an energetic rush to the head as the singer belts out tales of woe, wonder and life journeys gone by: ‘Been 21 years since I left home, still looking for a place to call my own’.
Not content with just encompassing the brash beats and synths, Brandon also manages to thicken out the record with some great heartfelt numbers. Between Me and You is sweet and sultry without being too overbearing, whereas the gentle and almost sadistic The Way It’s Been finishes off the record with an introverted look at moments that move the singer. A Bruce Springsteen tinge sets up the folky feel, even featuring some Beatlesesque harmonising and melodies – the perfect end.
The Desired Effect is a triumph for Brandon’s solo career and a real step forward for the artist. It shows how far he’s developed since Flamingo and sets a standard for anyone wishing to ditch the band and try it on your own. It’s not an easy thing to do, and the fact that it’s only taken Brandon two attempts to produce this quality is something to behold.