Duran Duran – All You Need is Now

Not many bands (especially from the ’80s) have been able to remain relevant for more than a decade, let alone more than three decades. But even after multiple lineup changes, reunions and subsequent re-departures, Duran Duran is still creating and performing innovative new wave as fresh today as it was when the band originally formed. The band proved that with 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre and a sexually charged show at Chastain the following year.

Released 30 years after the band’s self-titled debut, All You Need Is Now further proves that these Brits can still create dance rock with the forward-thinking synth work of Kraftwerk or Gary Numan and enough added sex appeal to keep it from seeming too cerebral (even when it actually is). Just as some of Massacre‘s success can be attributed to contributions by the likes of Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran has recruited some equally interesting collaborators on All You Need Is Now. Most notable is Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Ronson, with whom the band collaborated in an hour-long live mix of the band’s music in Paris in 2008. Also joining the band on All You Need Is Now is Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallett, whose string arrangements are present throughout the album.

But regardless of who’s helping the band, it’s the core quartet of Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes (guitarist Andy Taylor is still not involved) that can be credited for continuing to create electro-pop that skirts the edges of cheesiness without ever diving right in. On All You Need Is Now, the band presents a decadent dystopia with “Blame the Machines” and makes even an otherwise creepy subjects like stalking sound seductive on “Being Followed.”

Slower paced songs like “Leave a Light On” and “Before the Rain” are this decade’s “Ordinary World” or “Save a Prayer,” with their heart wrenching subjects and lush musicianship. But it’s on songs like “Girl Panic!,” “Runaway Runaway” and “Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)” (featuring Ana Matronic of the current synth rock favorite Scissor Sisters) that Duran Duran reminds listeners of its “Wild Boys”-like tendencies, regardless of the actual age of the band’s members.

And when it comes down to it, Duran Duran has changed very little musically since the pretty boys first made an impact in the ’80s. Yet on All You Need Is Now, much like such classic albums as Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger and Big Thing, Duran Duran is making music that is relevant on many levels. Which further proves that the band has always been just slightly ahead of its time, yet still able to party like it really doesn’t matter.

Duran Duran
All You Need Is Now
[Tape Modern]