Review ·

While many of their '80s pin-up peers have faded into dead-behind-the-eyes nostalgia bids, Duran Duran have inexplicably survived. For a band so steeped in dated Thatcherite nostalgia -- yachting, skirt-chasing MTV superstars with perfectly fluffed hair and a taste for the exotic -- it's a wonder they even made it to 1990, but they're nothing if not stubborn. Even as the glory days of "The Reflex" faded away, even as the screaming teens grew up and the critics grew tired, the Fab Five (or whoever's replaced one of the Taylors over the years) remained ambitious. Sometimes, such scrappy (underneath all the makeup) determination resulted in undeniable greatness, like with 1993's near-perfect "Ordinary World."

 

Other times, most recently with 2007's Red Carpet Massacre, the experimentation tanked. A misguided attempt at club reinvention, the Massacre sessions saw guitarist Andy Taylor out and Justin Timberlake and Timbaland in, and resulted in a bloated, uneven album -- the second-lowest selling in the band's history. But once again, you've got to applaud Duran Duran for soldiering on; after such mediocre reception, the band reentered the studio with unshakable vigor and a mean fighting streak. With All You Need Is Now, they certainly came out swinging. The months leading up to the album's digital release were filled with relentless campaigning -- "Frankie Say Relax"-style T-shirts included -- and enthusiastic bombast from its creators, all comparing it to that untouchable New Romantic legend, Rio. Mega producer Mark Ronson promised a return to roots, both throwback and reinvention -- an album to remind us all why we loved Duran Duran back in the day.

 

It's such confidence and pre-game boasting that makes "All You Need Is Now," the kickoff single, released Dec. 8, such an odd, ill-fitting introduction. A squelching, schizophrenic number, the title track has an undeniably anthemic chorus that reaches "New Moon On Monday" highs; it's just unfortunately buried between clumsy verses and Simon Le Bon's lazy vocals, the same lack of momentum that sank the band post-Notorious.

 

Any review of All You Need Is Now would be gibberish to those unfamiliar with Duran Duran's back catalog. Seeing as its own major players are all too keen to compare it to the band's critical and commercial heyday, the album seems designed to be self-referential, and listeners can't be blamed for expecting a mere rehash. Indeed, some of the tunes scan like New Wave karaoke. "Leave A Light On" is little more than a slightly beefed-up "Save a Prayer" (which, thanks to the original's pedigree, still makes it a decent track), and "Blame the Machines," with its painful opening lyric about "driving up the Autobahn," is a misguided attempt at Numanesque techno-pop.

 

Thankfully, even the missteps are forgivable, simply because the band sound like they're having one hell of a time. Le Bon, bassist John Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor approached the album with a sense of giddy abandon, and superfan Ronson knows just when to step back and let them have their fun. "Being Followed" sees the Duranies finally hitting their stride; with a driving pulse that almost recalls Blondie's "Atomic," it's a writhing take on voyeurism that has just the right amount of vintage appeal. Dance numbers like "Girl Panic!" and "Runway Runaway" ("Last Chance on the Stairway" meets "Lonely In Your Nightmare" meets 2010 indie earnestness) will slide in seamlessly with the old hits onstage. Putting heavy focus on John Taylor's throbbing bass and Rhodes's synth and sampling wizardry, such songs capture a strutting, in-your-face sexuality that proves these fiftysomethings are suave as ever. The metaphorically bestial "The Man Who Stole a Leopard" is "The Chauffeur" for a paranoid 21st century, all languid, slinky atmospherics and heady backing vocals provided by a surprisingly subdued Kelis.

 

It's tempting to scoff that such guests as the aforementioned Kelis, Scissor Sister Ana Matronic (lending sassy street-chick "Rapture" to "Safe"), and Owen Pallett were tacked on in a bid for modern credibility; Ronson's reputation as a record-dusting hipster might not help matters. But really, fault lies with the hyperbolic, self-referential Duran Duran for not giving themselves enough credit. Is it their strongest album since Rio? Sure, but for every nostalgic hook, there's a reinvigorated charm that has the band at their freshest and most forward-thinking. As a group of former heartthrobs with something to prove, Duran Duran are both a product of its time and a band with its eye on the future -- and they've finally managed to capture the titular sense of Now.

 

***

Band: http://www.duranduran.com

Audio: http://myspace.com/duranduran

Twitter: http://twitter.com/duranduran

 

After 2007's lackluster Red Carpet Massacre, which saw the members of Duran Duran remake themselves as Timbaland-approved club gods, the '80s pinups sought a return to form. All You Need Is Now, produced by Mark Ronson and featuring guests like Owen Pallett and Ana Matronic, revisits the Duranies' new-wave roots -- and it comes with a vote of confidence from its major players. With keyboardist Nick Rhodes calling it "the best record we've made in over two decades" and Ronson boldly calling it "the imaginary follow-up to Rio that never was," the original MTV titans certainly talk a big, bombastic game.

Sic Alps - Napa Asylum The Streets Cyberspace and Reds

Agreed. This record's great.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/JohnFrusciante895/photo-on-2011-04-20-at-1128jpg.jpg JohnFrusciante895

Nice revie. this album makes you wanna dance!

vince

"All You Need Is Now" is a 10. Hilary Beck is partially deaf.

SuperBien

New Album "All you need is now"

All You Need is Now -9/10
Blame the Machines - 9/10
Being Followed - 8/10
Leave a Light On - 10/10
Safe - 10/10
Girl Panic - 10/10
The Man Who Stole a Leopard - 10/10
Runway Runaway - 9/10
Before the Rain - 9/10
Mediterranea - 10/10

It's the Fab Five back to the top!!!!

It's amazing album...

Ed Wilson

An 8 is a great score. Don't think one 10 was given this year.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

This is a really, really good album. There are a few songs like 'Girl Panic', 'Being Followed', and 'Man Whole Stole a Leopard' which easily could have been from the 81 - 85 era and certainly exceed some of those songs like 'Shadows on your Side', and 'I Take the Dice'.

In many ways, this album surpasses '7 & the Ragged Tiger', which really only had a few really good songs (Reflex, New Moon, Crime & Passion, Snake, 7th Stranger).

It certainly is better than anything since '7', with maybe the exception of Medazzaland which is still a great album.

There are still two more songs to come out; 'Other Peoples Lives' and 'King of Nowhere'. If these two stand up to the rest of the album, I would say this album falls into place # 3 right under 'Rio', and 'Duran Duran (1981)'.

Again, great album, hats off to Mark Ronson who got these guys to actually play their instruments this time around and deliver a worthy album.

joe

Well, I'm really excited to hear this album now. I will wait for the CD version because (a) I can't afford to buy 9 of the songs twice, and (b) I still like listening to music the "old-fashioned" way. :)

I just wanted to point out that I think "Shadows" is one of the best songs - if not THE best song - DD ever did! Just funny because Joe singled out as being one of their weaker cuts. Just shows how tastes vary, even among fans and followers... :)

Glenn

P.S. Check out my 80's like music here and please sub! :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8SJd-xNDIQ

Glenn

This comment is for Glenn. You may want to consider REALLY listening the old fashioned way and purchase the LP record of "All You Need is Now". If reports are correct it will have a total of 14 tracks instead of the CD's 12 and the digital album's 9.

Crew

Nice review, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. But how did you miss the release of Chinese Democracy in November 08? That was an amazing album.

AnnaKim

New Moon On Monday was the best DD song ever...and it's not even close....please tell me there is something on this new release to match that killer cut...and I'm a real DD fan, not just a fan of their radio hits....some of my other less popular favorites are "Matter of Feeling", American Science", "My Own Way", "Vertigo", "Cracks in the Pavement"
"Liberty", "Winter Marches On"...I could go on and on...I liked DD more for the songs that weren't released than for the ones that were..

Juiceman

If the 1st single is so disappointing why can't I stop listening to it? It's a wonderful piece of ear candy + I wish the new Bryan Ferry were this good. 'Olympia' is the muddiest sounding album since U2's 'Horizon'. So sad deep inside.

Rod

I'll agree with the point about the introductory track. Duran has long been poor at choosing a good (pop radio friendly) representative track for an album.

For Astronaut they chose "Reach up for the Sunrise", which was an okay tune, but hardly a mover. They should have picked "Nice" which was nice (pun intended) uptempo pop song.

For this album they should have chosen "Girl Panic!".

kray28

I can already picture myself in a huge concert where crouds go grazy! I absolutely love this album and all the songs get 10/10 from me!
It is great to read reviews of this album as it get´s all the praise it deserves! Wow!

Niina

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