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The Killers’ Brandon Flowers grows up and gets down on his first solo record, Flamingo

Brandon Flowers didn’t set out to make a solo album. “I’ve never known anything other than the Killers,” says the front-man of that popular Las Vegas quartet. “When I approach a song — or when a song approaches me — I just assume it’s for the Killers, since that’s how it’s always been.” Yet after the group finished touring in support of its most recent studio album, 2008’s I Flowers’ band-mates told the singer they wanted a break.

“I could respect that because we’d been going strong for seven years,” he says. “But it was also a little bit scary: I’ve worked on my songwriting and my performing so hard-appropriate than Vegas, Flowers, 29, got to work on a batch of new tunes with producer Stuart Price, who’d helmed Day & Age. “We started off making a really synth-driven record — more pop or dance than the Killers’ stuff, with maybe some world beats thrown in,” Flowers says. “But after a while I realized that the songs that were coming out of me didn’t really lend themselves to that feel. They had a little more dust on them.”

He responded by inviting Daniel Lanois to join the project; Flowers calls himself “a huge fan” of Lanois’ collaborations with such heavy hitters as U2, Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel. “Daniel has this great attachment to organic music,” the singer says, “but he’s definitely not afraid of the electronic aspect, either.”

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The result is Flamingo (Island, $14), a set of glistening open-road anthems that somehow split the difference between acoustic Americana and straight-up disco. According to Flowers, the sound of Flamingo (which includes additional production by Brendan O’Brien and guest vocals from Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley) captures the “majesty of the Mojave Desert,” something he’s been trying to do for years. “I think it’s such an underrated place,” Flowers says of his home turf, where he lives with his wife and two young sons. “Most people associate it with isolation and with being dirty, but it’s so beautiful to me. I’m here to defend it.”

That majestic vibe inspired Flowers to address big themes in his lyrics — think life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — as well as the kind of wide-screen romance favored by Bruce Springsteen. “Heartache and pain came pouring down like hail, sleet and rain,” he sings in “Crossfire,” the album’s surging lead single. “This is definitely an adult album,” Flowers says. “To a lot of people that’s a dirty word, but I wanted to embrace it.”

“I liked his bravado,” Lanois says. “Brandon’s an emotional person, and that’s what attracts you to his performance.” At the same time, the producer adds, Flowers pursued a level of refinement with his vocals that Lanois calls “staggering.”

“He’s like a laser: He gets in there and really pegs what he’s going after,” Lanois says. “And I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he’s done his homework, studying songs and listening to records.”

True to that industrious image, Flowers views his current solo tour not as an excuse to party but as a valuable learning opportunity. “I’m just hoping that I’ll figure out what I like about what feels different,” he says, “and apply the good things to the next Killers record.”

LovingLas vegas

On his new album, BrandonFlowers sets out to “defend”his hometown of Sin City.We asked him to share withus the places that make himappreciate it most. .

9595 South Eastern Ave. #120
(702) 451-4711
“It’s my favorite after-dinner stop. Frozencustard is like ice cream from heaven.”


(inside the El Cortez Hotel & Casino)
600 Fremont St. | (702) 385-5200
“I was introduced to this place by the son ofan old Texas Hold’em champion. It doesn’t looklike much, but the food makes up for any ofits aesthetic shortcomings. Breakfast, lunch,dinner, 3 a.m. or whatever stirs your mush —just get there.”

Located 35 miles northwest of the city“You can hike, camp, climb, ride, sightsee andsometimes even forget that Sin City is only45 minutes down the road. In the summer,when it’s really cookin’ in the valley, we like topack the kids in the wagon and head to MountCharleston, where it’s 25 degrees cooler.”

500 E. Washington Ave. | (702) 486-3511
“A lot of people are shocked when they learnthat Las Vegas’ first nonnative settlers wereMormons. It’s a nice contrast to head downtownand see some of their preserved structures thatdate back to the 1850s.”