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Album review: Duran Duran's 'All You Need Is Now'

March 21, 2011 |  7:07 pm

Duranduran Duran Duran has made no secret lately of its desire to keep up with the kids: For 2004’s “Astronaut” this long-running English synth-rock act hired producers including Dallas Austin and Don Gilmore to help freshen its sound, and “Red Carpet Massacre,” from 2007, contained collaborations with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.

The band’s choice of Mark Ronson to helm “All You Need Is Now,” Duran Duran’s 13th studio album, seems consistent with that pattern; Ronson has crafted hits over the last few years with such youngsters as Adele and Amy Winehouse. Yet the producer’s specialty is providing his clients with a kind of meticulous throwback vibe, and here he aims not to update Duran Duran’s style but to restore it to its early-’80s splendor. Never mind the disingenuous title: “All You Need Is Now” blasts unashamedly back to the chart-topping days of “Rio” and “The Reflex.”

Not everything is worth making the journey; indeed, it’s hard to know why the band bothered adding five new songs to the superior nine-track version of “All You Need Is Now” that Duran Duran released through iTunes late last year. But with their sleek keyboard lines, trebly guitar chatter and frontman Simon Le Bon’s swooping vocal melodies, taut neo-New Wave gems like “Being Followed” and “Girl Panic!” make a strong argument for the lasting utility of these hitmakers’ original formula. Maybe the kids should come to them.

—Mikael Wood

Duran Duran
“All You Need Is Now”
(S-Curve)
Two and a half stars

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