Daily Record (Scotland) Reviews ‘Astronaut’ (4 out of 5!)

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Daily Record, Scotland

By Rick Fulton

JOHN TAYLOR has splashed out on a Duran Duran tattoo, to make sure he can't leave the band again.

His bold move coincides with the original line-up of the Eighties supergroup releasing their first new album in 21 years.

And the Razz has been given one of the first listens to the new tracks.

But can John, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor match up to bands like The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and Busted in a chart stuffed with R&B, hip hop, teen pop and dance music?

John, who now has two big Ds permanently inked on his arm, admits it wasn't easy to reunite. He said: 'I have to stay, I've got the tattoo now. It's not been easy, I'd probably liken it to a family reunion - the dynamics between siblings.'

The album Astronaut, their fourth studio album with the original line-up, is out on October 4, with the lead single, (Reach Up For The) Sunrise, out on September 20. The group admit that Astronaut, recorded pre and post-September 11, is light and dark, with some tunes happy and others questioning the new world we all live in. Simon claims Astronaut is the best album they've ever made. He said: 'No spare words, nothing loose, no filler.'

Here's how the Razz rate the new material, track by track.

1. (Reach Up For The)Sunrise The band's lead single is so unashamedly happy, with its chorus: '(Reach up for the) sunrise put your hand in the big sky.' At their Glasgow SECC gig, this was greeted with as much gusto as the old favourites. Nick said: 'An anti-dark times song that says wake up and enjoy the day. It's a simple uplifting, joyous piece of music.' 4/5

2. Want You More! Harking back to 1988's Big Thing and tunes like All She Wants Is, this tune has a strong squelchy bass which could be stripped down for a blistering dance track. 3/5

3. What Happens Tomorrow. The album's first highlight. It sounds like Oasis at their stadium anthem best. An upbeat Ordinary World. 5/5

4. Astronaut. Starts like Justin Timberlake, with acoustic guitar and spiky drums. It's the band's own I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper. The group are famous for Planet Earth and this is the fun Bmovie version. 3/5

5. Bedroom Toys. A band known for saucy videos (Girls On Film, The Chauffeur), remind us it's fun to be fun. Simon is at his camp best and even does a tongue-in-cheek rap. Funky bass and lyrics like: 'Silicone romance, what's your name fancy pants.' 3/5

6. Nice. Another upbeat number which sounds vaguely like a rock band from the late Eighties, but the grove is a bit pedestrian. The boys, now a bit older, haven't got the hunger of the wolf when it comes to the ladies and talking about relationships. 2/5

7. Taste Of Summer. The reunited group's first song. A great dance track, but there are some typically dodgy Simon lyrics like: 'Your breath as sweet as melody.' John said: 'We'd all been dancing at Free Mobil Oil with Servicea St Tropez night spot for Nick's birthday. The next day we just hit this groove. I'd been out for a drive in the morning and Andy and Nick had this loop.' 4/5

8. Finest Hour. Another album highlight with Nick's always under-rated sound-scapes, it's a beautiful melody with dark overtones. It refers to Winston Churchhill's famous speech and is one of their comments about the world after September 11. John said: 'We realised this was not just going to be an upbeat, optimistic record.' 5/5

9. Chains. John gets a good bass work-out, and it sounds quite similar to Come Undone.4/5

10. One Of Those Days The beginning of this, whisper it, sounds punk, with Andy enjoying a rockier Duran Duran. 3/5

11. Point Of No Return. Not sure about the bosa nova beat to start and it sounds like the group's Tel Aviv from their debut album.A bit forgettable.2/5

12. Still Breathing. Simon sounds like Jarvis Cocker from Pulp at the beginning of this - and that's a good thing. A beautiful ending to an album which proves Duran Duran can still cut it. An inspiring ending.

4/5 Overall: A couple of dodgy tunes, but this album doesn't sound like an old band trying to be like they used to. And it's not Duran Duran going Britpop or R&B either, their influences range from Chic, to glam, to Earth Wind & Fire. This is music for clubs or the bedroom.

COSMIC: Duran Duran's Astronaut will be a hit