Vampire in the Limousine: My Review of Duran Duran’s New Album, Paper Gods

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Finally! My wait for the new Duran Duran album, Paper Gods, is over. After being released on September 11th, I went straightway to the nearest store and snagged my copy. I’ve had it in my cars CD player ever since, listening and re-listening to it (as is my custom when they release a new CD) until I know all the words to every song. As with all their new releases, I have to say, I love it!

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I’ve been a huge Duran Duran fan since their early days, and I’ve stuck with them ever since. Given that fact, my review of their new album might be a bit biased, but hey, this is my review – so deal with it.

It’s funny to me that when a new Duran Duran album is released and I invariably mention it to others, they always seem to say something like, “I didn’t know they were making a comeback,” “I didn’t know they were still around” or “When did they get back together?” I usually end up looking at them with an “I can’t believe you just said that” expression on my face and say, “Um… they never went away. The radio just stopped playing them.” Duran Duran have been releasing albums on a regular basis since they entered the music scene in 1981. I’ll admit, their biggest commercial success came in the 80’s with songs such as Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, The Reflex, The Wild Boys, Save a Prayer and Union of the Snake. In those days, radio DJ’s would refer to them as the second coming of The Beatles. After their popularity dwindled, they did have a resurgence with Ordinary World and Come Undone in the 90’s, but ever since those days they haven’t made much headway in the top 40 world.

Fast forward though the years and 10 or so albums to today, with the new offering, Paper Gods. It is their 14th studio album, and features a collection of songs they’ve done in collaboration with various artists such as Mr. Hudson (Kanye West/Jay Z collaborator), John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and producers Nile Rodgers and Mark Ronson. The album reminds me a bit of a journey from a sarcastic feel in the 7 minute long title track, Paper Gods, to a melancholic reminiscent look back in The Universe Alone.

The mood of Paper Gods feels darker than its predecessor, All You Need is Now. Roger Taylor, the bands drummer, says, “The last album was very much about going back to the early days and recreating the early Duran Duran sound. That was what Mark Ronson was really looking for with that record. But I think we’ve allowed ourselves to be very modern and contemporary with this record.”

For me, it’s thrilling to hear Simon LeBons voice singing new material. The album opens with the title track, which sounds oddly spacey and electronic with the sarcastic feel of the lyrics. It’s followed by Last Night in the City, which hits you as a bold electrifying piece which features guest vocals by Canadian singer Kieza. You Kill Me with Silence has been described as one of the best tracks on the album, up there with their most loved ballads, such as Save a Prayer and Ordinary World.

The first single from the album, Pressure Off, is infectious. If for no other reason, the chorus itself gets stuck in your head as it reaches for new heights. Then there’s Danceophobia, which features Lindsey Lohan (yes, you read that right, Lindsey Lohan… the booze swilling, controversy stirring actress) in a speaking part where she plays a doctor offering a diagnosis as well as cure. To be quite honest, I was a bit apprehensive when I first heard Nick Rhodes, the bands keyboardist, state she was going to be on the album. Somehow, though, she makes it work.

One of the main reasons I love Duran Duran so much is for their lyrics, especially in their 3rd album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. They’ve always been sort of ephemeral, artistic, open to interpretation. Sometimes, they can be just plain odd… and I love them for that. One of the best lines on the entire album, for me anyway, is in the chorus of Only in Dreams, where we hear Simon warning the listener, “There’s a vampire in the limousine, the sun’s going down like a symphony.” I’m not sure what it is about that line but it grabs me.

So do yourselves a favor, dear readers, and have a listen to Duran Duran’s new offering, Paper Gods. As Simon said on their website, “Please spare us the 50 or so minutes that it takes to listen to Paper Gods from its opening note to its closing echo. I promise that you will not be disappointed.” Give it a chance, and I think you’ll like it. After all, Simon knows what he’s talking about.

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