Duran Duran – Astronaut

Duran Duran - AstronautFace it, nostalgia for the 80s is back in. Old arcade games are being repackaged in battery-powerered, self-contained joysticks and sold to us one more time. TV shows from over 20 years ago are hot commodities on DVD. And bands are rising from the ashes of the new wave movement that met its ignominious end with the rise of the hair band era.

Now, to be sure, I’m not sure Duran Duran was ever, strictly speaking, new wave. They took some of the new wave’s synth wizardry and production techniques and dropped a thick, frothy layer of funky guitar licks on top of it – not really a bad mixture, truth be told. You’d be hard-pressed to find too many consistently good 80s albums as Rio. And you’d be equally hard-pressed to find a band from that era making as solidly listenable a comeback as Astronaut, their new offering, and the first in quite some time with all five of Duran Duran’s founding members.

Part of the real shock value of Astronaut is that, while the band has updated its instrumental sound ever so slightly – okay, okay, quite a bit – the defining sound that is Simon Le Bon’s voice, and the great harmonies from the group as a whole, hasn’t changed a bit. If anything, I almost think his range has gotten better with age. On the instrumental side, the synth-heavy tunes show some real evolution from the band’s 80s sound, but it’s in the guitar-centered songs where you’re in for a real shock – quite a few times, we actually get acoustic guitar, and played really well too. Andy Taylor was never a slouch in the guitar department to begin with, mind you, but he really wows me here.

4 out of 4Standouts include the damned catchy “Astronaut” with its euphoric synth sweeps and the well-chosen lead single “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise”, but those are just the two tracks that trip my trigger the most on the first listen – the whole album really is worth a listen. Who would’ve thought that Duran Duran could muster up a reasonable amount of musical credibility two decades down the road? Now the real trick is to see if they can stay together this time. If they can turn out more albums like this one, they have my permission.

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  1. (Reach Up For The) Sunrise (3:29)
  2. Want You More! (3:43)
  3. What Happens Tomorrow (4:09)
  4. Astronaut (3:28)
  5. Bedroom Toys (3:55)
  6. Nice (3:30)
  7. Taste The Summer (3:57)
  8. Finest Hour (3:59)
  9. Chains (4:50)
  10. One Of Those Days (3:50)
  11. Point Of No Return (5:02)
  12. Still Breathing (5:59)

Released by: Sony / Epic
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 49:53