Music Review: New Duran Duran recalls early sound
Duran Duran, “All You Need Is Now” (S-Curve Records)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
When producer Mark Ronson began working with Duran Duran on “All You Need Is Now,” he reportedly challenged the ’80s pop veterans to revisit the sound of their formative musical years and conjure up a follow-up to the band’s 1982 hit-spawning album “Rio.”
And on most of the new album’s 14-tracks — five more than in the iTunes-only release in December — the musical DNA of the British group’s early sound is hard to miss.
This gives “All You Need Is Now” a familiar quality, like you’ve heard some of this music before. A rhythm here, a vocal melody there.
On the funky “Girl Panic!,” the percussion recalls the group’s classic “The Reflex,” while on the moody ballad “Leave A Light On,” the synths may bring to mind another seminal Duran Duran song, “Save A Prayer.”
Of course, when you’ve been putting out records for more than three decades, it’s not easy to cover up your musical tendencies.
Duran Duran appeared to try to do just that in its prior studio effort, 2007s “Red Carpet Massacre,” enlisting contemporary pop music heavyweights Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
By comparison, “All You Need Is Now” is less preoccupied with dressing up Duran Duran’s sound in new threads than in dusting off the old garb that made frontman Simon LeBon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Taylor pop superstars 30 years ago.
For “All You Need Is Now,” LeBon and Co. are once again without the services of founding guitarist Andy Taylor, who joined the band for 2004’s “Astronaut,” but then left the band two years later.
Taylor’s aggressive guitar punch helped forge Duran Duran’s early sound, but his absence isn’t felt overtly in “All You Need Is Now.”
The album overflows with Duran Duran’s other sonic staples: Lush synths layered over driving, dance-floor ready bass lines; disco-inspired percussion, frequently accented with Latin beats; and, the high-flying, moody vocals and harmonies.
On the title track, a whirring synth drone builds to a sing-along friendly chorus: “And you sway in the moon the way you did when you were younger/And we told everybody all you need is now.”
Duran Duran kick in the New Wave — or retro, for those of a certain age — in “Being Followed,” where LeBon sings “I’m not alone/Being followed/Someone always watching what we do/Never alone/But I’m in the shadows/I dream things I don’t want you to know.”
The band also dials up old-school disco and funk on the dance-floor ready “Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment).”
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: “The Man Who Stole a Leopard,” might be the album’s standout cut. Somewhat evocative of the band’s dark and sexy classic “The Chauffeur,” the track features vocals by Kelis and LeBon at his best melody craft when he sings: “You were once running wild, hiding in the morning mist/Game demands I make you mine/I thought that I could resist but the leopard in you/Silently preyed on me.”