Review Summary: With a reunited original lineup and reunited focus, Duran Duran try to make their new wave pop in the 21st century, and succeed for the most part.
Having once been at the top of the pop charts, and existing in an era where new wave/pop ruled the land; the reformation of Duran Duran in 2001 would mean they we re-entering an era which was similar to the one they had left, correct? Wrong. MTV and music in general had drastically changed with the rise of hip-hop which had seemingly abandoned pop music unless you're an attractive female. The group had entered foreign territory, not the ordinary world of instant success and notability of the early 80's. Despite this, the group had reunited, and thanks to publicity from the retro maniacs at VH1, they had a platform for their new release to obtain some sort of publicity.
Although this is counted as a reunion disc, the band were not without their flops of albums released in the 90's. It just seemed with those releases they were trying to do a sound that they don't do, straying from their pop roots and trying to pull off the "grown up" sound (which never works). Amid the waste of printed paper inserts and some decent singles were a band trying to rediscover itself, it seems covering a Public Enemy song is not on the proper path. Perhaps it was good that the band had taken a break, because then they reformed and recorded Astronaut
, it was like they had discovered their magic again.
People clamoring for the original band to regain their original sound take it from one member at a time. Would Rhodes's Synth be unplugged and underused, can front man Simon LeBon sound like the same strapping young man at 40+, and can we expect the same bridging guitar solos from Andy Taylor? All of these things had culminated in the band releasing monster singles and albums in the past, with their added age skepticism's wonder if they can gather it together for one more effort.
All criticism and doubt are swept to the side, if only momentarily to make way for the first track on the album, Reach Up for the Sunrise
. From this track it becomes clear that the synth doesn't slack and that the combination of Andy and John Taylor's (no relation) underrated guitar and bass sounds alive and well. What is also reinserted in their arsenal are catchy choruses that with well-written songs, are what brought them to fame in the first place. The trend of synth intros continue with the next track, Want You More!
which spotlights Nick Rhodes as he plays heavily throughout this song that resembles a tale of a manipulating woman lyrically (maybe some ex wife, contrary to an ex girlfriend).One thing that can be noted at this point is that the production is smashing, and really lets their pop sound get across nice and clearly.
Once this track exits, enter their ability to write more ballad-y songs in the likes of Save a Prayer and Ordinary World. On this album that song is What Happens Tomorrow
. It is a mostly a traditional band setup song, taking Nick's heavy sounding synth out of the main piece and centering it around Andy and Simon. The track follows the Duran Duran formula, verse/chorus/bridge highlighting certain member of the band (in this case Andy) but with added strings over the latter half of the song leading up to a long held high note before the song goes on for a bit longer and then ends.
From these tracks it can be known that on this album Duran are up to their old tricks, and they do perform them quite well until the uber-awkward track Bedroom Toys
. Just the title of that alone will make some listeners hit the skip button, not wanting to hear 40+ year olds talk about anything about any bedroom ever. It sounds like an old track in the beginning, light sounding guitar over Roger Taylor's drums and female vocalists leading to Simon mentioning something about making your "chicken curl". This is not a well written song and from :51-:53 honestly sounds like the intro song to The Fairly Oddparents. Its one of the albums more low-key raunchy songs, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Its just with the rest of the album being so mature it seems this track wouldn't have happened. Oh well.
Overall, this is not the exact old Duran Duran, instead it is the old
Duran Duran using experience more than their added years to make this album. It certainly is the bands biggest pickup since the Wedding Album, and makes for an overall good listening experience.
Reach Up for the Sunrise
Taste the Summer
Want You More!