Warner Bros. Records
Release Date: September, 11, 2015
Duran Duran are a bit like a chameleon. Throughout the years they have consistently swayed with the wind, riding it wherever it took them. This, of course, led to them being one of Pop music’s premier godfathers. Whether it’s the electronic-laden sounds of Big Thing and Medazzaland or the decidedly more Rock and Roll Rio, Astronaut, and the wedding album or even the dance hall soul of Notorious, Duran Duran do it all with an undeniable swagger.
Paper Gods most likely lands somewhere between Big Thing and Notorious, falling somewhere along the line that connects soulful and danceable sounds. “Last Night In the City” (Featuring Kiesza) is the culmination of it all with Le Bon’s vocals front and center alongside Kiesza’s almost gospel worthy performance. This is all amidst a backdrop that would make ravers proud.
Nick Rhodes brings the disco groove to the forefront again and again, but it’s most noteworthy on the synth led “Change the Skyline” (Featuring Jonas Bjerre). It’s gorgeous vocal bridge creates a huge, bright melody that speaks joy amidst some programming that even makes old codgers like me want to dance a bit (Please don’t tell anyone that though).
The album’s title track, “Paper Gods,” is unquestionably the highlight of the album. Featuring Mr. Hudson, the song acapellically builds into a soulful, kind of Billy Joel meets dancehouse meets Duran Duran thing. What really gets me though are the lyrics as the Duranies rarely make statements. This song ironically speaks to the fading of all that glitters (aka the paper gods), something the band has traditionally glorified.
As with any Duran Duran album, there are a couple of failed experiments here and an outright stinker or two. Overall though, this is better than either Red Carpet Massacre or All You Need is Now (which were both solid albums), making it the best Duran Duran album in nearly a decade and proof positive that they still have it in them to be leaders in Pop music.
Reviewed by Mark Fisher