Being a real Duran Duran fan since I was a child, it is really hard to choose a favourite release from these pop-gods. As they always had the ability to change throughout the years and follow trends in the music industry, these music geniuses released a true masterpiece just a few months ago. On September 11th 2015 their last album Paper Gods was out. As they did a little less than expected with the 2007 Red Carpet Massacre, they bounced back with All You Need is Now, but Paper Gods really puts this band to the very top of 2015 releases.
If you stayed true only to their ´80s sound, you may not like it, but the evolution is inevitable if you want to stay in the business and these chameleons of sound know it just too well. Their Paper Gods is trendy, modern and chic; real 2015 music, with not much of nostalgia for the “old times” that some names often reach for in their recent work. It feels as if they did leave behind their roots, but it is Duran Duran, you can still recognize them in their sense for melody and arrangements, as they proved to be a hit factory again this time.
Since Duran Duran always like to collaborate with various names, they did this time as well. On Paper Gods they joined forces with Mr Hudson, an English musician, songwriter and producer.
Even though their lyrics were not their main concern in the ´80s, seems that the years have changed them in that direction as well. The opening track “Paper Gods” speaks of one aspect of modern society, as they sum it up in one of the lines: “The total human race became a basket case.” Sound-wise, this song has an attitude and makes a statement, not only lyrically. The second track “Last Night in the City” can be described as a disco-track with a solid beat, but a bit cheesy for those who are not mainstream music fans, as this is as mainstream music as it can get. The song features Kiesza, a Canadian singer and multi-instrumentalist.
As they always gave us an insight into their softer side, that is what they did on “You Kill me With Silence”, were Simon is doing a brilliant job on the chorus, showing yet again his magnificent vocal range. But we did not enjoy their “silence” for long, as this album is mostly oriented to the real dance music, so again one mainstream disco hit is here. They join hands with a true music ikon, Nile Rodgers, but there is more than Nile here, as Duran Duran seems to love Mark Ronson, who I think needs no introduction as well. And as for great female vocals, the responsible party is Janelle Monáe. The song is utterly catchy and optimistic; even though I didn’t like it at first listening, this piece gets under your skin with time as you discover that is a very layered and cleverly written piece. What else to expect when having Duran boys, Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson and Mr Hudson in one place. This song is what “Girl Panic!” is to their previous album.
My favourite song is, however; “Face For Today” where you can hear origins of Duran Duran breaking up to the surface; there is a touch of old Duran in the arrangement, melody, refrain, synths and even in the way Simon sings this one. So if you are a bit nostalgic for the old Duran material, go straight to this track. But soon they are back with their more up-to-date self on “Dancephobia”, again keeping the course with the disco mainstream. This time they borrow the voice of Lindsay Lohan for the spoken part.
“What Are the Chances?” can, I assure you, make even a grown man cry, as I did a few times when listening to it. This is a slow dancer that can be compared to “Come Undone” or “Ordinary World,” but as I don’t think it can reach the popularity of those two hits, it has that quality and Duran Duran proves one more time that they are doing so well in producing such stunning ballads. Again, great arrangements and great Simon whose voice is still crystal clear singing the second octave with such ease. Magnificent! “Sunset Garage” has a chic sound, a flirty song, again very optimistic in sound and lyrics with additional vocals from Hollie Cook, a British singer and keyboardist. They join hands with Jonas Bjerre, the lead singer of the Danish rock band Mew on the next track “Change the Skyline”. Another dancy track, as this album is all about pure dance pop music, but this time with more retro vibe. Dance optimism follows on “Butterfly Girl” with wonderful female vocals of Anna Ross who tours with Duran Duran regularly. As they decided to give us some rest after the cardio exercise, they leave two slower tracks for the finale. “Only in Dreams” is a bit more groovy as Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson have their saying in it; it really offers the funk sound with the guitar and bass lines, which are the most prominent here. So if you are up to a bit of funk, you can find it here.
As I love melancholia the last track is again one of my top ones. “The Universe Again” is melancholic, nostalgic and optimistic at the same time. Starting with the orchestral arrangements, it brings in the beat a bit later but remains very atmospheric. It flirts with the “old” Duran sound greatly, so if you still treasure the legacy of their ´80s this track is again a good opportunity to revive your love for Duran Duran´s work in 2015.
The deluxe version of Paper Gods offers three bonus tracks: “Planet Roaring”, “Valentine Stones” and “Northern Lights.”
release date. 11-9-2015
label: Warner Bros. Records