Duran Duran Delivers Best Album Since Notorious

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Duran Duran Delivers Best Album Since Notorious
Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Are we ready for Duran Duran to be produced by the likes of über music producer Timbaland and boy wonder Justin Timberlake? If you ask former guitarist Andy Taylor, the answer is a resolving no. Yet that’s just what happened for their latest release, Red Carpet Massacre, hitting stores on Tuesday.

Ever since Simon LeBon and the boys reunited with the original line-up, the lads have been looking to find their sound in the modern age. Their first attempt in 2004 with Astronaut was a mix bag that seemed like they were being too nostalgic and trying too hard to resurrect their old sound. It was a good attempt but there just weren’t any stand alone singles.

Now the boys are back, minus Andy Taylor, who left presumably because he was not cool with the direction the rest of the band wanted to head. That direction was to find the right producer to bring them in the running for a hit single and a modern sound. Hey it worked in the past with Niles Rogers, who produced some of their most successful songs and reinvented their sound with their 1986 album, Notorious. That too was their first album after Andy Taylor left the band.

After attempting to record the album with Astronaut’s producer Michael Patterson starting in September 2005 and reportedly had 15 tracks in the can, the sessions were scraped after Andy Taylor quit. They regrouped later in 2006 and in the end had 3 songs produced by Timbaland, 1 produced by Justin Timberlake and the rest of the album produced by Timbaland’s protégé Nate "Danja" Hills. This album much like a Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake for that matter, is been well thought and crafted to be a radio hit making machine.

So the real question is this a Duran Duran album or have the 80’s boy band succumbed to being mere puppets to the current music trends? I would have to say the answer is a yes and a no. There’s no question that Timbaland, JT and Danja are heard in the new tracks breathing new life into their 80’s sound.

When the collaboration works it plays masterfully like with the first single, “Falling Down.” A surprisingly upbeat tempo ballad produced by JT that feels and sounds every bit like Duran Duran. You hear the little flourishes that JT has added but they sound right without appearing out of place.

It’s actually the Timbaland produced songs that seem out of place and not at all Duran Duran. All 3 tracks are clearly dominated by Timbaland and Duran Duran seems lost in the translation. “Night Runner” could easily have been an outtake off of JT’s last album and “Skin Divers” and “Zoom In” doesn’t feel right either. Maybe they will play well on the charts and in the clubs but it’s just not Duran Duran. Two distinct styles can make a perfect marriage or one party can dominate and Duran Duran clearly lost with these.

But that’s not to say this is a bad album. It’s theirs best in years and clearly has a shot to make some ways in the charts. The acoustic tinge of “Box Full of Honey” is a beautiful ballad as is “She’s Too Much” and LeBon’s vocals are as strong as ever.

The New Wavers are back with Red Carpet Massacre and prove they can still lay down their dirty pop grooves in the modern age. If you were a fan of their Notorious era but was disappointed with Astronaut, then give this one a chance. The 80’s may be far behind them but they still have a few songs left in.

courtesy Lumino Magazine