Duran Duran’s “Paper Gods” Does Not Fall Flat

By Tye Musante

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These days, it is increasingly common for a band from the 80’s to reinvent their sound in an attempt to appeal to younger audiences and still see their record completely go under the radar. The attention span of our generation is becoming increasingly limited. With their latest album, “Paper Gods,” it can be said that Duran Duran has the strongest chance of breaking back into the public spotlight. With clever, nuanced lyricism, hooks that make “Hungry Like The Wolf” seem like child’s play and expert production provided by Nile Rodgers, Mr. Hudson and the ever-funky Mark Ronson. It’s been five years since the boys collaborated with Ronson on their last album, “All You Need Is Now,” and the decision largely pays off in their favor. Amazingly, Simon Le Bon’s soaring vocals are as impressive now as they were in 1978. Even more astonishingly, the band’s signature sound translates perfectly into a modern dance-pop atmosphere.

The record kicks off with the title track, a seething critique of consumer culture and society’s obsession with the next best thing. After that, the album becomes more light-hearted, transitioning into more euphoric dance tracks and pop ballads. The icing on the cake for this record is the featured artists that Duran Duran have enlisted to make Paper Towns relevant to your average casual radio listener. Kiesza’s mighty range take “Last Night in The City” to new heights and John Frusciante generously lends his talent to tracks “What Are The Chances?,” “Butterfly Girl,” and “Universe Alone.” The London Youth Choir makes an appearance, lending their angelic tones to the aforementioned song. Even Lindsey Lohan makes a guest appearance, delivering a sultry monologue in which she diagnoses the listener with “acute danceophobia.”

The stand-out track on the album is definitely lead single Pressure Off, a dangerously explosive power-pop anthem with the added oomph of Janelle Monae’s booming vocals. Honestly, Paper Gods is so polished and club-ready, but also so expertly crafted, that I would so far as to say that most tracks on this album could selected as a potential single. The seventeen tracks on the record are much more crisp than anything you could find on “All You Need Is Now,” and they pack more of an electro-pop punch.

Fortunately, the guitar solos on “Northern Lights” and “You Kill Me With Silence
take us back to the Rio era on a wave of nostalgia. The band further capitalizes on nostalgia by adorning the album cover with a collection of symbolic objects, meant to represent different key moments in their career. Fittingly so, for the release of “Paper God”s is itself a landmark for Duran Duran, and a refreshing addition to their repertoire.

Tye Musante is a Contributing Writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com

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