Nashua Telegraph Review

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ASTRONAUT Duran Duran; Epic.

Published: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004

More than 20 years since Duran Duran released a full studio album, the original band returns with the sound that made it famous: catchy, simple anthems and harmonies over driving dance grooves and slick electronic sounds.

The album is a swath of effects-layered, slow- to mid-tempo songs, ranging from radio-friendly pop anthems such as leadoff single “Sunrise” to more groovy and disco-influenced numbers such as “Nice,” which recall the group’s early ’80s work on “Rio.”

That said, “Astronaut” is not exactly a return to roots - at least four tracks feel so contemporary, they would sound at home on a Jamiroquai or Backstreet Boys album.

After guitarist Andy Taylor and drummer John Taylor (no relation) left the group at its peak of popularity in 1985, the band’s ensuing releases mostly lacked the tight feel of a full band involved in the writing process. But on “Astronaut,” Duran Duran sounds more like the cohesive unit that delivered driving yet danceable tunes such as “Girls On Film” and “Planet Earth.”

Tensions over how hard their sound should be appear resolved, with Andy Taylor indulging in few solos and little distortion. There’s little experimentation; they play to their strengths. And singer Simon Le Bon’s vocals are in great form, even if his lyrics remain light in the depth department.

Among the strongest songs are “Sunrise,” featuring drum work that echoes “Girls On Film,” and “What Happens Tomorrow,” another catchy rocker with soaring vocals reminiscent of the 1993 hit “Ordinary World.”

“Nice” is perhaps the best of the bunch. Bassist John Taylor drives this disco number, which casts Le Bon in his familiar seducer role: “Take the beautiful sting of a Scorpio / A careless smile and it begins to snow / And it hurts me to think that you might never know / That I’ve got this thing about you."

Courtesy Nashua Telegraph