Sunday, January 3, 2016

Paper Gods - Duran Duran

To continue reviews reviewed last month, but not posted for Christams is the 2015 return of one of my favorite 80's bands. This is the fourteenth studio album by one of the UK's finest Duran Duran. I already reviewed Rio, and have others in the work but I figured do this while I'm on a roll. Ok, so I can't really what I was expecting from this album. Their last few records ranged from great/solid (All You Need Is Now) to kind crap (Red Carpet Massacre) to I've yet to hear this record (Astronaut). None the less their albums from 1981's Self Titled album to 1986's Notorious had some of the best new wave/new romantic/synth pop songs ever written/conceived/preformed/composed ect. in my opinion. And even after that they had more songs that are good, or great vs the albums worth of amazing tracks they had prior. So here we are LP 14, first in 5 years and they are now a quartet. Though Andy did leave in 2006 so that's almost a decade ago.... whatever. I was excited to hear this because of some of the features. Mark Ronson comes back to produced, as he did for the last album, and Nile Rogders does also. He's even featured on a track. He also produced Notorious for them back in the day. But over all I was excited to hear this. I mean the interesting, to me at least, features on Déjà-Vu ended up helping to make that a solid record. Why not help this record?
  1. Paper Gods: This track features some vocals from Mr Hudson. I recognized his name but I wasn't sure from where. The when I looked I saw he was on 808s and Heartbreaks and Watch The Throne. Starting out vocally, something that is very doowop inspired. Well maybe not doo-wop, more R&B of The Supremes and what not. That is until it goes into the electronics that make sense that this guy was on 808s. I actually don't think this is half bad. It brings out the same side of me that likes Déjà-Vu. I mean it isn't the best song I've ever heard, but it's a shit load better than anything on The Book of Souls. PS I just sat through that storm of uninteresting shit. I feel like this is a song I'll revisit. But the ending, it's very nice and heavenly. Not quite the majesty I wish it could be, but hey it's pretty. I feel like if I was to want to run someone over, I could play this and I'd be relaxed and forget why I was mad. Solid ending, or outro rather. This is how you justify a 6 minute track, cough. When I come back months later, I really dig that bass line. I really like how the tone is and it just feels.... right. Like this is what I think these guys would be doing in today's day and age. The bridge is pretty eerie, and while not crazy eerie, it works for the song. Just again, maybe a little long at 7 minutes (but not too bad). {7/10}.
  2. Last Night In The City: This track has an appearance from Canada's own Kiesza. You know from The Usual Suspects :). I'm smiling, Yes! And hey, this damn, how is this so happy. I don't know if I'm just high for feeling nothing from the last album, but this is really good. Much better than I'd anticipated. This track stays pretty close to the sonicousity of the last track, sounds like it'd be on the same album, but it sounds different enough to not sound like it's a repeat of the first track. This song feels like it might be a good intro to get you excited, but I like how it wasn't the first. Again, I'm not in love with this track, but I do like this and like the vibe. It's happy, not sad or depressed. When that guitar comes in it just causes a big grin on my face. It's like..... A sort of updated version of something you love. Fresh, but it doesn't ruin it for me.
  3. You Kill Me with Silence: Eh, please don't do this to me. You were doing so well, we were falling in love. And while it doesn't go the rap route, the music isn't all that great. Though the pre-choruses remind me of the Golden Eye music. And the chorus, while not that amazing, I don't know. I've heard far worse later career albums this year alone. I think that'll take another listen or two. I really, would rather not acknowledge this tracks existence. I mean this is not a travesty, but it's just.... if it's an experiment it didn't go over so well. The chorus section isn't half bad, but the verses.... oh no! I like the textures in that chorus part though, relaxing and pretty. You know what that sole "do do do do" thing reminds me of a bit, Boys-N-The-Hood. The ending is pretty cool, with the wahs and wahs. I can figure a better name, but I'd rather be more specific.
  4. Pressure Off: This track features one Janelle Monáe and one Nile Rodgers. This reminds me of a remix of a song with Nile. Like maybe Notorious, at least in the beginning. And while it may not reach the highs of the essentials on that album, it doesn't fall short in vain. I could see the chorus's "oh oh oh" being a problem, but right now I'm not worrying. I could easily see this being written with that era mentality in mind. This is one of those song that just is happy. I mean does it have the substance, maybe not.... I'm not looking to deep into it, but this does have the ability to give you what this band is best at. As Spotify radio says "Dance Floor Anthem".
  5. Face for Today: This intro reminds me of a more orchestrated version of Perfect Day, their cover from Thank You. While I need to check, this sounds like it could have been the best song on RCM. No, this isn't terrible, but I just am not feeling this. I mean the vocals and harmonies are nice. But really outside of the actual non-electronic parts of this are the only things I'd salvage from the track. Which I think the only real thing is the vocals here.
  6. Danceophodia: This is the track I was very much so looking forward to hear. A vocal appearance from one Lindsay Lohan. I don't know why but she's almost always been my celebrity crush, and when there were others, she out lived those. I can go on and on about her but lets leave it at I was excited to hear what was in store. Well I guess the only other girl I could say shaped my taste in women more than her is April O'Neil (the pornstar) or Princess Leia. That is kind of irrelevant, but I just though I should note that. So it was cool to hear she was doing something somewhere I would possibly like her music. This isn't that bad of a song it is a very, pastiche 80's synth pop song. Like I feel like it's something that Natalie Portman's Shaved Head may have done. I'm serious, those backing vocals in the chorus alone could be the backing vocalist(s) from Beard LustLohan has a voice over, and it sounds so phoned in. The only way it could be funnier is if Carlos Estévez was doing it. Seriously, I am not even kind of feeling here, you'd get the same effect if you got a librarian to do it. This really doesn't sound like they were taking that seriously, which is what I hope is what it's supposed to be. Because this would be like an outtake of an outtake of a song that probably shouldn't see the light of day. Also even when she's talking, usually it's like "it's her", but here it's like "she sounds like she is trying to be sexy, and forgot or fried her brain to the point where she no long knows how to be sexy". That was kind of mean but this song shouldn't exist..... or it could be on RCM. :D
  7. What Are The Chances?: This has John Frusciante playing guitar on this. That intro reminds me of something that in the very beginning, pre-guiar, reminds me of The Weeknd on like maybe HoB or maybe The Fall. Then once the guitar comes in it sort of reminds me of something I can't quite pin down. I've been thinking about it, but I can't quite finger it. Now once you get to the actual song, there are echoes of The Chauffeur in this track. At least in the beginning, before the programmed drums come in. There is also a hint of 2010's Scorpions. It even has a fitting Scorpions' ballad solo. The only thing that doesn't make this a straight up track by them is the strings and programming. And Simon. I like the strings, and this could be like The Force Awakens. A new updated version of A New Hope and Empire Strike Back, with some Return of the Jedi thrown in and a hint of the prequels. This kind of sounds a bit like a mess, but it evokes that Bittersweet Sympathy feeling and that Chauffeur emotion. I really can't hate it. Damn you nostalgia, you ruined me again. I could also see this being based on Bitter Sweet Symphony.
  8. Sunset Garage: Being the "unmemorable" track it is to me, when I  listen to it I enjoy myself. This song is kind of cheesy. I mean it sounds like something that the 80's would synthesize to be a 50's or 60's throw back. It's not that bad, and it's a pretty happy song. I dig the surf vibe and the jangle pop (?) feeling I'm getting. It's kind of cute. Also that main "riff" reminds me so much of Macho Mani's line "Wanna feel my body, body. Wanna touch somebody". So that gets a smile too. Maybe it's a little long, like I could do it being shorter by about 45 second. But you know, it's not terrible.
  9. Change The Skyline: This track features a Jonas Bjerre. He is in a group that I recognized, thought don't care for at all, Apparatjik with Guy Berryman from Coldplay and Magne Furuholmen from A-ha. I can see the appeal of this, but that digital compressed bass sound isn't really something I'm digging. I mean, this song sounds like it's all over the place. I think if they spent more time it'd flow better. I like the little flairs and things and beeps. But I wish it was better constructed.
  10. Butterfly Girl: The second of three appearance from John Frusciante. This intro really reminds me of INXS's I Need You Tonight. Which of course is a great song, but still. It played the VH1 Classic add from when I used to watch that channel back when I was in Middle School (07-08). This song, on it's own.... I am not really feeling anything outside of maybe a bit of "not hate" because of the very Pump Up The Jams vocal feeling. The backing vocals sound like they'd fit in that style of song. Overall it's kind of a filler. Nice solo too, it doesn't really work here. maybe if this was a different song, it's work. But it sticks out like a sore thumb sadly.
  11. Only In Dreams: This is one of my favorite songs on this album. The strings here are very tasteful and work. They set an atmosphere, and the world is beginning in this song. The backing vocals work here too. I like the verses, the main music part. The funky vibe and atmosphere. This might be a better finale than penultimate. This is a pretty simple song, but it works and is effective. I like it, and I hope you do too.
  12. The Universe Alone: This is the third and final appearance of John Frusciante. This works as a closer though, but I don't know how much it works since the last track is similar. There are bell sounds that make this feel like a finale, but still. This has echoes of Chauffeur. The song starts and it feels like Duran Duran. I mean I really don't have a lot to say about this track. It's good, just maybe not as good since it follows a song pretty similar to it before this.
Overall I have to give this album a 7/10. Off the bat it's better than the last album, 2 albums ago. This is more electro-poppy. I feel like this should replace the existence of Red Carpet Massacre. I will buy this on CD, no if ands or buts. Easily the best album I've heard this year since The Powers That B. Not really, but this is one of the better records of 2015. Also my favorite of the year was TPTB. I like this, but you know hopefully they dive head first into another style for their next release. Have guts, balls and then even if you fail you tried.

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