With their extravagant outfits, flamboyant haircuts, and big booming pop hits, Duran Duran might be the quintessential band of the 80s. Indeed, it's hard to the picture the "Me Decade" without thinking of Simon Lebon in a flashy white suit telling us why he's hungry like the wolf for a girl with the rather unlikely name of Rio. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Durannies have fallen on hard times. Their last album, 2007's Red Carpet Massacre was supposed to be huge hit. Justin Timberlake was on board, and he was supposed to make Duran Duran relevant to a younger audience. That did not happen, as the album stalled at No. 36 on the Billboard charts, and it quickly wound up in used bins at record stores.
Not to be deterred, Duran Duran switched to another hotshot producer for the follow-up effort. Mark Ronson, famous for his work with Amy Winehouse and Daniel Merriweather, was brought on board for All You Need Is Now. Considering his affection for the music of the 80s, the collaboration was a natural fit. Sure enough, it resulted in one of the strongest albums of the band's career.
The lead single is the title track, which puts the past and present together perfectly. It would fit equally well on a 1985 radio or a 2010 podcast. The band really bridges the gap quite nicely. It's a piece of bright, bold pop that could easily bring Duran Duran the success their last album did not.
Equally strong are "Runway Runaway," a fine piece of sleaze-pop that wouldn't have been out of place on Rio, and "Girl Panic," a cheerful reminder of their groupie-laden heyday.
This album's one flaw is that it might be a bit too 80s-centric. While a few of the tracks are fine for 2010, other numbers seem dated. It's clear that with this record, Duran Duran cared more about getting back to their roots than trying to imitate current pop stars. It was probably the right decison, but there are times when the band's age really shows.
With that said, this is probably Duran Duran's best album since 1993's Wedding Album, and it is a must for anyone who cares about the band. The guys are still in top form, giving us the trashy brilliance that made them so huge in the first place. Grade: B+
Courtesy Spectrum-University of Buffalo