Release Date: Sep 11, 2015
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Pop, Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Synth Pop, Dance-Rock
It’s pretty interesting living in Birmingham. While the rest of the country gets excited by Peace, Swim Deep and the likes, you’ll only find any response at all in the city if you know where to look (notably Digbeth). In other genres, there’s a similar response to talents like Hannah Wants. There’s not a great deal of awareness in the general population.
Duran Duran’s Legacy Grows Stronger with Paper Gods Every time a new Duran Duran album is released, there seems to be an almost irresistible compulsion for some writers to herald the “comeback” of the “‘80s pop heroes” or some such nonsense. Quite simply, anybody who says that hasn’t been paying attention—Duran Duran never left. They’ve been releasing albums, most of them quite excellent, on a regular basis since their self-titled debut hit shelves 34 years ago.
With the cover art for Paper Gods, Duran Duran cheekily revisit icons of their past: the smile of Rio, the cap of the "Chauffeur," girls on film, and a prowling tiger. Thirty years in, Duran Duran are comfortable enough to play with their past, comfortable enough to draw an explicit connection to their back pages by hiring Nile Rodgers -- who helmed Notorious back in the day -- to do a bit of production alongside Mark Ronson, the hitmaker who gave the group a refurbishment on 2010's All You Need Is Now. Most of the record, however, bears credits either by Mr.
The story of Duran Duran since they reunited their classic lineup in 2001 has been one of a band trying to find where they fit in modern music. Their brand of new wave and synthpop never really left, but as groups like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand rose to prominence in the mid 2000s, it became evident that Duran Duran had cemented an influential legacy. Not content to remain in the past, they tried staying contemporary with 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, experimenting by working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
More than 30 years after they were first dismissed as vapid New Wave man-dolls, Duran Duran are still kicking, and sounding surprisingly vibrant. Their 14th LP features Mark Ronson and longtime collaborator Nile Rodgers, as well as appearances by New Age soul queen Janelle Monáe, ex–Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and even Lindsay Lohan, who adds some disco-doctor patter to the sleazy-slick "Danceophobia." It's a weird mix that feels cohesive, from the mirror-ball flash of "Pressure Off" to the EDM blowout "Last Night in the City," featuring young house singer Kiesza. Paper Gods has a grand-old-bitch quality: On the title track, Simon Le Bon plays the bored lizard king complaining about shallow fashion zombies.
Many an established act dreams of managing to sound contemporary and relevant without losing their sound and identity. Thus, Duran Duran’s 14th album pairs in-vogue producers (Mark Ronson, Mr Hudson and revitalised old collaborator Nile Rodgers) with special guests, from Janelle Monae to ex-Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante, to bring some electro bounce. Last Night in the City flirts with EDM, while the dippiest moment combines a Lindsay Lohan narrative with a rather clunky rhyming of Danceophobia and “coming over ya”.
It's easier than it should be to make fun of Duran Duran. Their 1980s heyday saw them churn out some of the greatest pop melodies of the era—"Hungry Like the Wolf" is an all-time great, no matter what anyone says. Then it all went wrong as they continued into the 1990s: releasing unmitigated crap on a remarkably consistent basis (apart from "Ordinary World;" "Ordinary World" is brilliant) and continuing to do so for a decade and a half.
Nostalgia is fleeting, but it is renewable, and every few years, Duran Duran returns to remind a new set of people of a sound that, buried deep within, they love. “Paper Gods,” the 14th Duran Duran album, and first since 2011, brims with the signature louche funk that made this group a paragon of early 1980s sleek excess. Simon Le Bon is still a fragrant, sleepy singer whose default vocal approach is the come-on.