Single Review: Brandon Flowers – ‘Crossfire’

When The Killers first stepped out onto the scene, they released the oddball indie-rock album ‘Hot Fuss’ way back in 2004, which was quirky and new and amazing in all kinds of ways but and managed to sell very healthily, they were only just appearing at the front of a long line of indie-rock bands ready to make their impact on the chart; some succeeded and some failed.

Since then, The Killers have stuck with their sound, knowing that it sells very well and especially seeing as indie-rock is now a far bigger force to be reckoned with since 2004’s R&B ‘fuelled’ charts. So maybe, just maybe, you’d expect Brandon Flowers and his bit of extra solo time in the recording studio would take advantage of the ever-popular genre and maximise his solo acclaim? Well yes, obviously: you’d expect a bit of Killers-y sounding magic to come off on ‘Crossfire’ but, truth be told, only a small amount actually has.

Whilst it’s not quite the huge step into a completely new direction that someone like Kele took after leaving Bloc Party – in fact, ‘Crossfire’ sounds like a B-side to any of the singles from ‘Sam’s Town’ – it’s most definitely a noticeable transition. ‘Crossfire’ appears to ditch the typical Killers melodies and instrumentation, and instead the song really concentrates on Brandon’s voice, distinctive and unmistakable as ever, he croons softly over a reserved intro, with very little going on in the instrument department, before the real Killers sound quality comes through for the chorus.

Erupting into an unexpected, raised-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck-type chorus with typical Killer-esque lyrics about love with a bit of religion thrown in for good measure – “And we’re caught in the crossfire/Of heaven and hell”. It’s sung with beautiful clarity but even so, it’s not particularly catchy, is it? Just as well there’s a lovely, warming falsetto refrain to end the chorus or this review would be a whole lot grimmer – “Lay your body down/Lay your body down/Next to mine”” is the highlight of entire song, encapsulating more anguished emotion than the rest of it put together.

Unfortunately, and you can ask The Saturdays who know this rule only too well, you can’t put out a song – especially if it’s your début single – that only has one or two lines that really give the song that oomph to take it to the next level, it’s like cheating: you’re not really climbing to the ‘next level’; you’re more likely just sat on the ground a wailing up at it. The Saturdays fell into the same net with ‘Missing You’ – “Beggin’ to get back together/I just want you to bleed” and so on was the best part, but it clearly wasn’t worth the whole song for just those few lines. ‘Crossfire’ falls at the same hurdle, losing that much needed Killers kick, leaving just the poetic lyrics to give any suggestion this song was written by the Killers’ frontman.

The middle eight is very good though, not amazing, but it’s nice to see there was thought on how it would be sung – it’s a complete atmospheric contrast to the ‘down-in-the-dumps’ attitude heard in the verse, but when the chorus takes over, Brandon sounds fierce, confident and resolute.

The video is actually quite a good match for the song because, there are points in both video and song where it doesn’t quite come together, and sometimes, the whole thing does seem a bit pointless.

Why does Charlize Theron appear? Why does she rescue him three times? Why are there ninjas? Unfortunately, the whole thing has the potential of being something very good (trust me, up until a minute and a half it’s all very good) but it just loses it’s magic the longer it goes on, kind of like the song.

As a début effort, it’s passable, even moreso when you find out it was hand-picked by Brandon’s son, because it was his favourite track from the album, but from a man who leads arguably one of the best indie-rock best of the last decade, it a tad underwhelming.

Rating: 3.0 STARS

Download: August 23, 2010

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