Virgin EMI (label)
18 May 2015 (released)
20 May 2015
Brandon Flowers says that this album is the record that could and perhaps should have been the second from The Killers. At the time Sam's Town took the band in a slightly different direction to some had expected and many had hoped. The band's debut was full of so much promise, and only now and then since have The Killers come close to achieving that. That's what makes The Desired Effect such an irresistible delight.
Unlike 2010's Flamingo, which sounded like a collection of songs not quite good enough for his main band, this album pushes his sound further away from The Killers. And it's much better for it. No surprise that the 1980s influences that touched a young Brandon Flowers are so heavily worn on this album's sleeve. Single Can't Deny My Love sounds like a mash-up of a number of Duran Duran songs, including a nod to A View To A Kill, with the bass and keyboard splashes. It's almost his best ever solo song.
That honour goes to I Can Change, which samples Bronski Beat's superb Small Town Boy to masterful effect. After an echoey opening, Flowers pleads with a lover that he can become what they want. The use of Jimmy Somerville's classic adds atmosphere to Flowers' most adventurous song since Somebody Told Me. It's reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys, and it's no surprise that it features Neil Tennant himself.
There is a nod towards OMD on the summery Still Want You while Bruce Hornsby's piano adds depth and subtlety to the lovely Never Get You Right. The Way It's Always Been and the delicate Between You And Me are welcome moments of rest amid the power pop. The album is at its best in these moments, but falls short with Dreams Come True and Diggin' Up The Heart, which are more familiar Killers' territory.
Fans welcomed previews of this album, saying it's the record they'd been waiting for from Flowers, and it is without doubt one of the best and most interesting pop albums of the last five years. I am sure that is the desired effect Flowers was looking for, as well as showing that there was an awful lot of good in the 80s amongst the dross. Also, coming in at just under 40 minutes, it could easily fit on one side of a C90 cassette, just like the 80s!