“Give a man a mask and then he will tell you the truth.” That’s the Oscar Wilde quote female country-western duo Bad Flamingo has pinned to the front page of their website. And the two artists have taken those words to heart, too — they’re never photographed without their black cowboy hats and black masquerade masks.
Many artists throughout the decades have opted for exclusively wearing facial coverings to maintain a sense of mystery, ranging from the French electronic DJs of Daft Punk to recent fellow country outlaw Orville Peck. But few have maintained the level of anonymity throughout their career like Bad Flamingo has done.
The artists are known only as The One on the Left and The One on the Right, and together they keep their personal identities completely separate from their art. Little can be found about where they’re from, how they met, or even if they’ve performed live together before. They’ve only performed live twice. All of this is an added piece to the mystery of their brand. Bad Flamingo doesn’t just break the rules, they create their own. They sit back, take a swig of whiskey straight from the bottle, and let their music speak for itself.
Even though the term “western” has since been dropped from the Country & Western genre, Bad Flamingo keeps the mystery of the wild, wild, west alive. And that sense of mystery is evident in their music as well.
The group dropped their latest single, “Mama Raised You Right” on the 19th of March, and the track has the classic noir of a vintage western film. The swinging melodies of the muted horns seamlessly blend with the swankiness of the bass. The hushed vocals whisper in tones as warm as the heat of the Sahara desert. And the gritty strings of the acoustic guitar lasso you back in for more. It’s easy to imagine the song being played at an old saloon for weary cowboys after a long day’s work. And with cutthroat lyrics like “You would start a war just for some peace of mind”, it’s easy to imagine outlaws and gamblers enjoying the tune as well. “Mama Raised You Right” is a perfect embodiment of the Bad Flamingo mystery and their vintage western charm.
So like the Oscar Wilde quote, Bad Flamingo kept their masks on and they’ve told us their truth: that Country & Western is far from dead. It’s as alive as the spirit of the wild west.