Duran Duran hasn’t had any qualms about dyeing its roots and adding a fresh coat of blush to its sound over the years, from the stark funk of 1986’s undervalued Notorious to the desperately contemporary, Danja-and-Timbaland-produced Red Carpet Massacre from 2007. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the band’s signature New Romanticism lasted all of five years—and that Duran Duran has been soldiering on for a quarter-century since. Instead of another hasty makeover, though, the group’s new All You Need Is Now strips away two decades’ worth of paint. And it found the right man for the job: producer Mark Ronson. Flaunting his knack for organic, melodic dance music—and clearly harnessing his own childhood nostalgia for Duran Duran’s early-’80s heyday—Ronson nudges Simon LeBon and crew toward the same supple grooves and frosty hooks they once all but owned. It’s easy to pick out self-plagiarizing traces of Duran classics—for instance, “Leave A Light On” and “Being Followed” are almost remakes of “The Chauffeur” and “Careless Memories,” respectively. But that nagging, uncanny familiarity is as joyous as it is shameless. The sultry retro-funk of “Safe” bears the most blatant imprint of Ronson’s own music; still, it’s nothing Duran Duran hasn’t done before, and done better.
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