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Duran Duran - Astronaut


Review: Evelyn O’Connell

IN 2003, Duran Duran celebrated their 25th anniversary and the reunion of the five founding band members with a run of tremendously successful sold-out shows.

The original members of Duran Duran – Simon LeBon (vocals), Andy Taylor (guitar), John Taylor (bass), Roger Taylor (drums) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards) – have released their first new album together since 1983’s multi-platinum Seven & The Ragged Tiger.

Astronaut is very adventurous and showcases the diverse influences of each band member, blending guitar, synths, lyrics and melodies beautifully.

Each of the 12 tracks on this album has a different quality and approach, and although it does feel like eighties pop, it also contains an updated twist for the noughties.

The recent release (Reach Up For The) Sunrise is the first song on the album and is undoubtedly the most catchy song from Astronaut, then followed up by possibly the most ‘80’s inspired track, Want You More!

What Happens Tomorrow is poignant yet somehow manages to comes across as a slightly cheesy message of hope for the world. The Astronaut track itself is not really up to much and I had to wonder what made LeBon et al choose this as the title track, when there are far better tracks on the album.

It then gets worse before it gets better, with the 'mischevious' Bedroom Toys transporting you to a smoky, seedy lounge bar, without ever really sounding like Duran Duran - I hope that LeBon isn’t attempting to rap.

With the duff moments over, however, the rest of the album is pretty darn good, and highlights for me were the tracks towards the end, starting with Finest Hour and followed up by Chains.

Duranies are no doubt grateful that the boys are back together writing, recording and performing. The quality of material is good, the chemistry is definitely there, but none of the tracks on Astronaut has the potential to live up to classics like Rio and The Reflex.

And later Duran Duran releases Ordinary World and Come Undone far surpass (Reach Up For The) Sunrise and What Happens Tomorrow, in terms of meaning and musicability.

I think the hype and interest surrounding the album is much more to do with the original members being together again than it is about the music.

Maybe it’s because I can sing along with the classics, but this album took some getting into, but it is worth persevering with because after a couple of turns you appreciate the different tone and intention of each song and you’ll soon be playing your favourites.

This is a top pop album, regardless of the attention it has been given, and deserves to be looked at with fresh eyes and ears, whether you were a Duranie or were born way after they split in ’85.

Let’s see what the future holds for Duran Duran, as Astronaut sees the boys firmly back in their stride.

 

Track listing:
1. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise
2. What Happens Tomorrow
3. Want You More!
4. Nice
5. Bedroom Toys
6. Taste The Summer
7. Still Breathing
8. Point Of No Return
9. Finest Hour
10. Chains
11. Astronaut
12. One Of Those Days

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