Duran Duran's Soaring Return

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Duran Duran's soaring return

By Scott Galupo

Duran Duran
    Astronaut
    Epic Records
    
Simon LeBon is back with all the pretty boys of Duran Duran's ur-lineup — keyboardist Nick Rhodes and the non-brothers John, Roger and Andy Taylor on bass, drums and guitar — for the first time since 1983. (Yes, it's been more than 20 years that the world has had to suffer the indignity of Duran Duran imposters.)

The singer, pleased as punch with the reunion, says "sweetness is my weakness."

That's one way of putting it.

The grooves here are mighty tasty, but with their electronically padded beats and synthesized whooshes and warbles, they're spineless bait for European discotheques. They're '80s pop dressed in '90s techno.

Doesn't mean they're worthless: "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise" and "What Happens Tomorrow" will have you skipping Zoloft pills ("let the new light enter your life," "don't let go" and such), while "Bedroom Toys" and "Taste the Summer" offer sugary funk and naughty, shagadelic lyrics.

The leavin'-on-a-rocket fantasy of the title track is enjoyably daffy, and the band even ventures into the land of message on the vaguely triumphant "Finest Hour." Life under Tony Blair sounds as civically harsh as that under the wicked Dubya. Mr. LeBon asks, "When did our choice become erased?" and vows that "We're gonna take this stand."

Politics come up again — still just as vague — on "Point of No Return." And you thought the guys who gave us "Rio" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" didn't have a social conscience?

Anyone expecting revelations from Duran Duran...No, wait a second. No one expects revelations from Duran Duran, so count "Astronaut," better than anything put out under the band's moniker in more than a decade, as among the year's best improbable comeback album.
    
Courtesy Washington Times

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