Like that pair of knock-off white “Ked®” sneakers or that simple black skirt that steers an outfit to coordination, there are certain albums that make a night. And because you can’t always play Joy Division, it’s good to keep your rotation fresh. If you like your music with melodramatic come-ons, 808 drum beats that move you to dance in jerks like Ian Curtis, and lyrics you may or may not be able to extract every word from but can sing along to if you just do a long indolent mutter, then Flaamingos’ self-titled debut is your new not-so-novel schmaltz.
The two-piece rock outfit of Jerry Narrows and Daniel Koontz joins the number of bands who want to ride the new wave sound and, with any luck, have some great thespian one-liners like Morrissey did with The Smiths. Perhaps even more blatant with Flaamingos than other currents like Girls Names, Lust For Youth, and Pity Sex, is that Narrows and Koontz seem to have greater ambition to communicate the emotionally macabre sentiments of those ’80s bands that never became MTV starlets. Their self-titled debut is laden with nuances of generic sentimental bedlam. There’s the audio sample of shattering glass at the beginning of “Fall With Me,” the guttural “uhs” after Narrows confesses he’s not the one getting off with “the only one of us in ecstasy,” and you know whenever you play the French card (“Fin Du Monde”) everything sounds suddenly more sensual and desperate. Early on in “Walk A Wire” Narrows tells us, “someone get red wine” because that’s the sort of moody self-absorbed hedonism we’re indulging in now.
Flaamingos never give us a completely painted portrait or cohesive story. Even on “She’s Never Satisfied,” there’s no story—just a situation. Put simply, the guy is getting blue balls. Why? Well, he never says why exactly. This allows the listener to fill in all the open-endedness with imagination while some nice, afflicted “la la las” set the mood.
For an album that focuses on such anxious sensibilities and would serve as a great mantra for any sated character in a Bret Easton Ellis novel, Flaamingos does carry a great deal of balance and graceful transition. After the eerie and monotone pining of “Fall With Me” there’s the dance-centric number “Digital Dialogue.” The album is conceptually vague enough that you can lose yourself in dusty reverb and your own thoughts without feeling like you just babysat Morrissey or Elliott Smith through a red wine blubbering blunder with all the specifics of their bathos.