The trouble with Duran Duran is that they’ve never, not even for one second, been cool. They have unimpeachably cool heroes – the band came together, 26 years ago, through a shared love of Roxy Music, New York Dolls, Chic and the Sex Pistols – but their influence and reach have forever been warped by their rapid ascent to a level of global teen-pop success that few other bands had managed before or have done since.
For a lot of people, Duran Duran will always be those pastel-wearing haircuts twatting about on a yacht, making Princess Di wet her royal knickers with a wink and a smile. Easy to carry off when you’re 24, but less so when you’re well into your mid-40s. So what do you do? You make it all about the music.
No-one in the world sounds like Duran Duran. This is both good and bad. Good in the sense that as soon as Simon Le Bon sings, “Groovin’ now to X Ray Spex/Something tells me you’re the alien sex” across Andy Taylor’s funk rock guitar flurry in ‘Astronaut’ – a song quite clearly about hammering rock-star-quality pharms – you can practically smell the wildly over-expensive video. The same goes for ‘Bedroom Toys’ – hey, splashy rubber-sex with strangers rules! – which is the sort of copper-bottomed dub-funk the impossibly mental Grace Jones used to scowl over about a thousand years ago.
But it’s bad in the sense that, well, if any other band thought Duran were worth plundering for neat ideas surely to god they’d have done it by now? Instead, DD do some plundering of their own. ‘What Happens Tomorrow’, for instance, is so Oasis my IQ dropped 42 points on contact with it, while the slap-bass croonathon, ‘Taste The Summer’ (“The cool haze is reflected off your thighs” – genius!), could have been ripped directly from Duran’s 1986 mullet-friendly meisterwork, ‘Notorious’.
For all that, ‘Still Breathing’ – the 9/11 tune, everyone’s got one, schweedie – is a genuinely great song and ‘Chains’ is perfectly droney Beatledelia… but, y’know, so what? Doesn’t life already seem cruelly short? Do you really want to waste any of it ploughing through a new Duran Duran record?