Duran Duran : All You Need Is Now
Though Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and the revolving door of original members and session musicians have pushed on emphatically through the last three decades, it’s mostly been a case of one step forward, two steps back. The triumph of Duran Duran’s comeback ‘wedding album’ in 1993 was deflated by the horrific Thank You covers album that followed and, more recently, the glow brought on by the return of all five original ‘Durans’ on the fine Astronaut was snuffed out by the ambivalent reaction to 2007’s messy Red Carpet Massacre.
The band seem to have had a love-hate relationship with their early years: 1997’s Medazzaland featured a defaced version of their much-loved Rio album cover on its back cover. But, despite its present-embracing album title, All You Need Is Now not only pays tribute to their classic sound, it revels in it.
Producer Mark Ronson confidently steers the band’s 13th album, pitched as an ‘imaginary follow-up to Rio’, and it’s a well-judged union; he meticulously strikes the right balance between their adult contemporary and retro pop sounds. There are other hip artists in tow – Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic doing a Blondie-style rap, Owen Pallet arranging strings – but they’re more there as backup support than equal pegging.
The band themselves are in excellent form. Some of Rhodes’ analog keyboards do sound like they are lifted directly from the classics, but the songwriting is generally on-form and satisfyingly hook-laden. Le Bon has never sounded better. The single/opener/title track ticks all the boxes, but there is even better further in, namely the garage funk of Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment) and disco-filler Girl Panic!. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the consistent quality of the album, which has never been one of Duran Duran’s strong points.
All You Need Is Now is the best Duran Duran album in a very long time; it’s little wonder that even David Lynch is clambering to get on board. There might be a Pop Trash on its heels, so let’s just enjoy this victory lap while we can.
Best track: Girl Panic!
If You Like These, You’ll Like This: Rio DURAN DURAN, Friendly Fires FRIENDLY FIRES
In A Word: Retro