Brandon Flowers is dropping his second solo album, The Desired Effect, this week. While taking a break from his day job with The Killers, the best band in the past 15 years, according to him, he decided to craft this love letter to ’80s pop, rock, and post-punk. From what we’ve heard, there are so many sounds to be found from the decade of excess on this album that we decided to map out the strongest ones.
Track by track, here are 22 of the 1980s influences on The Desired Effect.
1. “Dreams Come True”
Influences: Big Country, Adam And The Ants
This soaring and rollicking opener, wide-eyed and free, jumpstarts the album. Drawing from songs like “In A Big Country” by Big Country and “Stand And Deliver” By Adam And The Ants, “Dreams Come True” blares with bombastic horns and a driving beat.
2. “Can’t Deny My Love”
Influences: Talk Talk, Ultravox
The lead single from The Desired Effect, “Can’t Deny My Love” is pulsing and pensive, smacking of the pretty, yet ugly attitude of British New Wavers Ultravox “Reap The Wild Wind,” “Vienna,” or Talk Talk’s “Talk Talk.”
3. “I Can Change”
Influences: Bronski Beat, Public Image Ltd., Thompson Twins
The falsetto howls and pleas on “I Can Change” remarkably harken back to the desperation of Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy.” There are also glances of Public Image Ltd. and Thompson Twins here.
4. “Still Want You”
Influences: Orange Juice, Culture Club
“Still Want You,” is a slowed-down ditty with a funky little trill pulsing throughout, which immediately brought to mind the post-punk classic “Rip It Up” by Orange Juice. The vocals on the chorus also recall Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.”
5. “Between Me And You”
Influences: Bruce Springsteen, Kate Bush, When In Rome
Having long had a musical crush on Bruce Springsteen since The Killers’ 2006 album Sam’s Town, Brandon’s heartland rock ballad is rich with the same beats as “I’m on Fire.” As the song grows more theatrical, it also has pieces of Kate Bush and When in Rome’s eternal new wave jam, “The Promise.”
6. “Lonely Town”
Influences: Roxy Music, The Cocteau Twins
When listeners had a taste of this track earlier in May, “Lonely Town” gave us the best idea of what was to come for this album. Heavy on synth and emotion, the song brings to mind Bryan Ferry and his work in Roxy Music. There’s a bit of dream pop Cocteau Twins here also.
7. “Diggin’ Up The Heart”
Influences: Dire Straits, Lindsey Buckingham
“Diggin’ Up the Heart” strikes that perfect balance achieved in the ’80s of almost country rock and keyboards found on tracks like Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life” and Lindsey Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.”
8. “Never Get You Right”
Influences: Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby
The keyboards used on “Never Get You Right” immediately brought to mind the work of Peter Gabriel, as well as Bruce Hornsby and The Range. It turns out that idea was right on; Bruce Hornsby actually is credited for piano on this track.
9. “Untangled Love”
Influences: Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark, U2
Perhaps the most Killers’ sounding song on the album, “Untangled Love” borrows sounds from new wave heroes Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark’s “Enola Gay.” Along with OMD, there’s a bit of guitar jangle reminiscent of U2’s “Desire.”
10. “The Way It’s Always Been”
Influences: Genesis, Nearly Every Hair Metal Ballad
While Phil Collins would be an obvious influence on an album like The Desired Effect, and that sound is very much here, there’s also a hint of power ballad as well. The organs and acoustic riffs recall when hair metal dudes took off the makeup and decided make a video showing what life on the road was like. (Seriously, this was every power ballad’s video.) Still, it makes for an incredibly appropriate closer.