Red Carpet Massacre

Duran Duran

Epic, 2007

http://www.duranduran.com

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/07/2008

There’s no getting rid of Duran Duran. Like Cher and cockroaches, they keep on coming back for more. Even with their countless lineup changes (they are now a foursome), they endure and somehow manage to change with the times.

Wrapping up their third decade on a high, the band has landed the hotter-than-hot team of Timbaland and (Justin) Timberlake for their 12th studio effort, conceptually titled Duran Duran’s Red Carpet Massacre.

The Duran Duran we find in 2007 consists of the Arcadia trio: Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor, as well as their original bassist -- and former Power Station member -- John Taylor. The only original Duranie not present this time around is Andy Taylor, whose less than professional demeanor led to the parting of the ways before recording for this album began.

So how does the Duran Duran sound gel with today’s heavy hip-hop style beats and rhymes? Better than one would expect, actually. This is actually a big step up from the dismal “reunion” album from 2004, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Astronaut. The uneven textures of 2000’s Pop Trash return with a vengeance, with heavy breathing and chunky rhythms to flesh out their brand-spanking-new aerodynamic sound. Simon pushes his vocal as far it can possibly go on the exciting title track, and then the entire team pulls out all the stops for “Nite-Runner.”

Unfortunately, “Falling Down” comes next. Who cares if Justin Timberlake produced this track all by himself? It’s a boring song and an extremely poor choice of leadoff single. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised in the least when the single -- and album -- “fell down” off the music charts without a trace in a matter of weeks. If anything, it is an inferior carbon-copy of “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone,” two other overrated Duran Duran songs that I could live without ever hearing again.

And the dopey and insipid lyrics of “Box Full Of Honey” and “She’s Too Much” make for a couple of other big stinkers. Enough of the ballads, already. Don’t you know by now, Duran Duran, nobody cares about your drippy slow love songs! And don’t even think about doing those songs live, unless you want to see the audience head for the exits in droves.

Timbaland attempts to rectify the situation with “Skin Divers,” but it ends up being one of his weaker creations. The “wiki-wiki” rap thing has more than run its course.  Thankfully, the remainder of Red Carpet Massacre restored my faith in this band. The standout dance track “Tempted” is perhaps my favorite song on the entire album. Be prepared to hear this one played at the clubs. I actually heard it being played in a record store recently, and had I not gotten a free copy of the album sent to me, I would have considered buying it on the strength of this track. Other strong tracks are the playfully bizarre instrumental piece “Tricked Out,” the thunderous Timbaland high-point “Zoom In” and the genre-defying “Dirty Great Monster.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this unpredictable, and sometimes scary, ride from Duran Duran. For someone who was ready to write these guys off completely, I’m happy to have been proven wrong. After such a wild departure with this colorful set of tunes, Lord only knows what they’ll come up with next…

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.