Before 2010 ended, one legendary band managed to sneak in under the radar and drop a digital-exclusive version of its new album (the physical version will be out in February). The band is Duran Duran, and the album is All You Need Is Now, the group's 13th batch of originals and their first since 2007's Timbaland-produced Red Carpet Massacre. For a group who saw most of its success in the 1980s, Duran Duran have been eager to reinvent themselves in the new millennium. This time around, they tapped sonic wizard Mark Ronson to handle production duties, and the result is a fascinating mind-meld of the group's classic pop sensibilities and Ronson's bag of throwback tricks.
In fact, the collision of the two worlds has please a number of critics, including Crispin Kott of PopMatters. "For the first time in a very long time, Duran Duran sounds like they're having fun, like they remember what it means to actually be Duran Duran," he wrote. "All You Need Is Now isn't Son of Rio, but it's the best album Duran Duran has released since then, a collection that manages what their best material always has, blending art with grand gestures and popcraft ... But even more than Ronson and Duran Duran have let on, it's also an album clearly in debt to the future, a sleek and sexy future where a guy in his early 50s 'driving up the Autobahn' is still the same superhero who wrestled hot chicks in a Sri Lankan swamp all those years ago."
The Boston Globe also thought the band sounded inspired. "Simon Le Bon's still sturdy voice soars over coolly funky backdrops and the grooves are some of the group's most urgent in years," critic Sarah Rodman wrote. "Kelis and Scissor Sister Ana Matronic show up to lend a feminine touch, but the men have this handled." In fact, when Ronson stopped by the MTV Newsroom to chat about various projects late last year, he singled out Le Bon's voice as the key centerpiece of the album.
Even Rolling Stone embraced the release. "Duran's Mark Ronson-produced 13th disc is a return to roots for a band that's all implants — which is part of the album's charm," wrote Jon Dolan. "'Being Followed' and the tawdry 'Runway Runaway' are every bit the chic Riviera rock of Duran's 1980s classics, and the years have added posh-boy crankiness to Simon Le Bon's lyrics."
Finally, Glenn Gamboa of Newsday also thought that the blend of the past and the future on All You Need Is Now is spot-on. "There is a 'Hungry Like the Wolf'-era feel to the fantastic 'Girl Panic,' the catchiest Duran song since 'Come Undone' nearly two decades ago," Gamboa wrote. "The Durans are at their best, though, when they continue to push the envelope, as they do on the delightfully weird synth epic 'The Man Who Stole a Leopard.' It's a sign that, while Duran Duran is looking back, its best could still be ahead."
What do you think of Duran Duran's new album? Let us know in the comments!