// Album Recommendation

Duran Duran

All You Need Is Now

(2012)

“And you sway in the moon
The way you did when you were younger
And we told everybody
All you need is now.”

All You Need Is Now by Duran Duran

Following 2007’s creatively vigorous but commercially unsuccessful Red Carpet Massacre, Duran Duran at long last recorded the album that most longtime fans had been craving for years. Compared to the band’s other works, All You need Is Now is second only to their classic 1981 New Wave album, Rio. For Red Carpet Massacre Duran Duran hired American super-producer/hitmaker Timbaland, presumably in an attempt to once again become a contemporary and commercially viable act after more than a decade of steadily declining album sales. Nonetheless, it wasn’t what their most loyal fans wanted to hear; they complained that the songwriting was too far removed from the original Duran Duran sound (personally I loved it). This could very well be the reason why Duran Duran decided to reconnect with the trademark sounds and textures of their first two albums, Duran Duran and Rio, and why they chose coveted producer Mark Ronson, who’s been a huge fan and advocate of both releases since his teens. Mark Ronson proved to be an inspired choice with a clear vision: he wanted to help Duran Duran reconnect with the youthful spirit and raw energy of the band’s early days, even going as far as saying in interviews that he envisioned the collaboration as the imaginary follow-up to Rio. All You Need Is Now, Duran Duran’s 13th studio album, is a triumph in this respect. That’s not the album’s only appeal, though; the songs are uniformly strong, and the production is sufficiently modern so as to prevent it from sounding like a pure retro project.

The lead single All You Need Is Now starts off with a swirling, insistent synth intro before breaking into a vintage-sounding Duran Duran chorus, not entirely unlike 1984 single New Moon On Monday’s impassioned refrain, right down to the mention of the word “moon” (“And you sway in the moon / The way you did when you were younger / And we told everybody / All you need is now”). Simon Le Bon’s narratives are frequently ambiguous, but the lyrics seem to deal with the innocence and naivety of youth as opposed to the wisdom and nostalgia of middle age.

As commercially popular as Duran Duran were from 1981-1986, the band’s visions and ambitions extended far beyond the mass appeal of their hit singles. Duran Duran’s first five album releases always included a couple of melancholic, atmospheric ballads that captured one’s attention and imagination. Among these were To The Shore (from 1981’s Duran Duran), The Chauffeur (off 1982’s Rio), Winter Marches On (from 1986’s Notorious), Palomino and Land (off 1988’s Big Thing). Two of the most evocative and captivating compositions on All You Need Is Now belong in this category: The metaphoric The Man Who Stole A Leopard, the album’s centerpiece, consists of a sparse, minimalistic arrangement (including strings by Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallett), but it’s heavy on atmosphere and mystique and quickly became a fan favorite. The similarly sparse and moody Before The Rain sounds even more reminiscent of early Duran Duran, drawing parallels to Rio’s icy, futuristic closing track The Chauffeur.

Girl Panic! brings to mind an ecstatic concoction of early Duran Duran hit singles such as Girls On Film, Rio and The Reflex (all included on Greatest), energized by a soaring chorus and the vibrant rhythm section of Roger Taylor (drums) and John Taylor (bass). This clever song incorporates all of the elements that make Duran Duran a pop band in a league of their own, and would surely have been a massive hit, if it had been released as a single in the early 1980s. The effortlessly catchy Being Followed showcases John Taylor’s inimitable, pulsing slap-bass to great effect. Credit should also go to guitarist Dominic Brown whose guitar playing skillfully replicates original guitarist Andy Taylor’s style on this track and several others. Once again Simon Le Bon’s lyrics raise doubt as to the exact subject matter and message, but it seems to address modern society’s constant, stressful overabundance of communication and information (cell phones ringing, text messages, e-mails, internet, TV, radio, etc.). Blame The Machines expands on the subject, analyzing the downside of technology/electronics (“I should have known / When I bought into the dream / So like your sonic soul / To leave me lost and stranded / I blame myself / And I blame the machines”). The lyrical content possibly also refers to Duran Duran’s long-lasting recording methods. Mark Ronson suggested that they record All You Need Is Now live in the studio –- which they hadn't done since their early albums -– and the band complied, soon realizing its value and the organic authenticity of the new recordings.

Runaway Runaway unites two of Rio’ s standout album tracks, Last Chance on the Stairway and Lonely In Your Nightmare, even if the result isn’t quite as memorable and convincing as either one of those. Leave A Light On is one of those naturally melodic and superior mid-tempo ballads that Duran Duran are so adept at writing (e.g. A Matter Of Feeling from Notorious, Too Late Marlene off Big Thing, Love Vodoo from Duran Duran). The collaboration between seasoned veterans Duran Duran and young fanboy Mark Ronson worked wonders. All You Need Is Now is undisputedly Duran Duran’s most consistently satisfying album since Rio.

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