Monday, 21 March 2011

The New Duran Duran

Watching the ITV special last night on Duran Duran - timed for their launch this morning of their 13th album, produced by Mark Ronson, hep-cat du jour - I couldn't help thinking: these guys have staying power.  Indeed, as we all know now, Duran Duran have been going, with hits and misses, for 30 years.  This is five times longer than The Beatles, or The Doors.  Of course, The Stones keep on.  However, it is true to say that it is mainly the 80 bands - once derided - who have managed to turn their names into brands, and their styles into perennial favourites.  The 80s is the new 60s - it favours nostalgic recovery.  Ronson is the man for that.  Duran Duran, like Depeche Mode and maybe one or two other 80s bands (The Smiths for instance) created a new genre, more or less, with their sound.  The Duran Duran song is bombastic, hedonistic, optimistic, and, yes, poetic.  It is like no other - and usually more textured and complex than one might think.  Their main themes - exotica, danger, sexuality, travel, fashion, and scopophilia - are those of the 70s French erotic films they were no doubt influenced by.  Is this a great album, a new Rio?  It seems too much a homage to the earlier work to quite reach that level, but it is a labour of love, and 'Leave a Light On' is as good as 'Ordinary World'.  'Mediterranea' is their 5-star spa credo.  'Girl Panic!' is a dance-floor classic manque.  What makes Duran Duran sickening pap to some, their plastic bombast, their eternal yearning, has become a legitimate stamp of a period - the po-mo pop they defined.  This is a major restatement of that moment.
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