Title - 'Paper Gods'
Artist - Duran Duran
I'll be quite honest, I have LOVED Duran Duran [Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor] ever since, well, Day One! Everything they have put out, every single the eve released, all their 12" singles (growing up in the UK, they were plentiful), it was always a joy to run out and buy their latest release. And as much as I know that as time has gone by, the bands sound has changed, somewhat, Le Bon's vocals not as "young" as they were, obviously, but it always seemed that the "Duran Duran vibe" was always remaining on each new album.
So, here on their brand new release, Paper Gods I was excited to hear that they had maintained that certain "vibe." And, sure enough, Le Bon's vocals are on point, the band's funky pop 80's sway still evident, but there just seems to be a little "spice" missing from the mix this time around. The first track, and the title track, 'Paper Gods' (featuring Mr Hudson) is also the longest on the album, and took me a while to warm up to. Perhaps it's the lazy, hazy lead in, but after three rotations I was finally ok with it. 'Last Night In The City' (featuring Kiesza) is a great R&B pop-funk, foot-tappin' fest, and is backed by the techno-lite ballad 'You Kill Me With Silence,' a cut that passes well enough as a "filler," as they say.
The best track on the album, for my money, and in my humble opinion, is the quite brilliant, old school DD magnificent 'Pressure Off' (featuring Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers). My goodness, now this IS what DD are still capable of and all about, trust me. 'Face For Today' and 'What Are The Chances?' are both two more (in my book, at least) "fillers," but sandwiched between them is the mesmerizing 'Danceophobia.' Yet another DD throwback to their golden age of sound, it's just a real pleasure to hear it on this new album.
As you continue to listen to the album, you'll soon discover that Paper Gods has a very contemporary sound to it. An adult DD, for sure, a mature one, most definitely. Non more so shown to its fullest as on both the glorious pop 'Sunset Garage' and the chant of 'Change The Skyline' (featuring Jonas Bjerre), where the DD sound is lowered, the music/lyrics taking control. Vocalist Le Bon has more than proven himself an astoundingly great front-man over the decades and his newly-worn vocals come to the fore on the pop bounce of 'Butterfly Girl' stunningly, before we close the album out with both 'Only In Dreams' ("The sun's going down like a symphony") and the trippy 'The Universe Alone.' [FYI: The Deluxe Edition of this great new album contains, 'Planet Roaring,' 'Valentine Stones,' and 'Northern Lights.']
Now, being a MASSIVE fan of the band, as noted above more than once, I feel it is also my job to point out that the one thing I loved about them was their 7", 12" and album art work. Sure, when CDs came out the art work began to wane, for some strange reason, but here on Paper Gods, well, I just don't get the design - and I HATE it also! Sorry, but it is HORRIBLE and was seemingly designed by a blind 4 year-old chimpanzee!
That aside, as there's more on this subject, usually when DD puts out a new album, I get the deluxe version. I enjoy thumbing through the booklets and admiring the artwork/photography. Indeed, the last few albums (going all the way back to Astronaut) had an extra disc with videos of band interviews. BUT, when you open up the booklet for Paper Gods, there are no extra CDs, notes or even a track listings. There's a booklet with some pictures and lyrics, but nothing really so-called "special" to a fan, trust me. I mean, come on now, they could have included a picture of the band - couldn't they?
'Paper Gods: Deluxe Edition' CD Purchase Link