13 November 2007
Duran Duran is one of those bands cursed by their own successes. They were poster boys for ‘80s New Wave and synth-pop, though they always incorporated guitars and live drums into the mix as well. Their videos for “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” are synonymous with early MTV. And yet, unlike contemporaries such as U2, they were unable to bring that early momentum forward into the next decade and the next millennium.
That’s not for lack of trying. They’ve released nine albums since 1990, their most recent being 2015’s Paper Gods. They had a few hit singles in the ‘90s – nothing on par with that first ten-year run – and then seem to have kept making songs for their never-dwindling fan base.
Overall, I’d have to say that the quality of their output hasn’t diminished, either. There are songs I like more than others, albums I like more than others, band members who come and go, but the consistency of their output is remarkable for a band coming up on the end of their fourth decade.
Today is the twelfth anniversary of the release of their twelfth LP, Red Carpet Massacre. When I said that they have albums I like better than others, this one falls into the “others” camp. That’s not to say I dislike it, but it falls between Astronaut and All You Need Is Now, which are two of my favorite late-era D-squared records.
“Falling Down” was the only single from this album. It went to #2 in Italy but failed to make much chart impact elsewhere. The album did well in the US on the Rock and Alternative charts and crested at #36 on the Top 200. These numbers were more-or-less on par for their latter-day efforts.
The music itself is vintage Duran Duran, with Simon Le Bon’s liquid mercury voice front-and-center throughout. Lyrically and musically solid, it lacks any real standout tracks, which is to say, they’re all very good but nothing goes out of its way to stand apart. (The hip-hop vocals on “Skin Divers” feel out of place and don’t add to the song. I only mention this because I just said nothing stands apart, but this useless embellishment is definitely unique to this track.)
So, if you like Duran Duran, you’ll like this album. If you’re not a big fan, you’re not going to miss anything. There’s nothing here that will change anyone’s mind about the band for better or worse. It’s not that they’re not trying, but they know what they’re good at and don’t feel the need to stretch far beyond that. But a band can do much worse than to be reliable.