The beautiful sting of a scorpion

Tonya is wearing out the Duran Duran reunion CD, Astronaut:

i was just wondering if you ever got the new album and if so, what do you think of it? maybe you should post a full review just to tee off nate! 🙂 my own thoughts, since you asked, are that it’s pretty good. that it definitely grows on you. that they are best when doing wonderful, catchy pop and that they tend to sound like morons when pontificating about “deeper things.” and that when simon sings the line “.. so FRESH! from your lips is born the melodeeee… melodeee…” from the song Taste the Summer, that he can’t really, actually be serious. oh, and that whoever thought Bedroom Toys was a good idea should be thrown into the ocean. still, it hasn’t left the CD changer in awhile. all in all, i think i’d give it a B+.

Space Bunny gave it to me for Christmas – I reciprocated with Robbie Williams Greatest Hits, which are about as well-crafted as modern pop songs can be – and while I’d give Astronaut a B myself, I have to seriously disagree on two counts. First, Bedroom Toys is my favorite song on the CD and perfectly captures Duran Duran’s unusual ability (almost unique in a world of pompous pop stars such as Bono and Sting), to lampoon their own image. Not only is the bass easily the best on the CD, but the image the song conjurse of a jaded, self-important eurosophisticate nonchalantly strolling into the boudoir of his soon-to-be latest conquest and bursting out with an English-accented “Oh my God, what’s this” not only cracked me up, but had the Perfect Aryan Male and the Potential Aryan Female in hysterics the first time they heard that followed by the chorus.

I saw your bedroom toys, now I’m stalling
I can’t believe my eyes

It’s just not meant to be taken seriously; even LeBon’s sing-song, glottal-stopping delivery indicates this. I liked it stylistically too, as it reminded me of something off the Notorious album.

As for the rest, I actually thought that the music and lyrics showed a band that has grown comfortable with their maturity and past-it status, unlike, for example, U2. Certainly the shift from the voracious predation of Hungry Like the Wolf – still one of my all-time favorite songs – to the themes of protectiveness, love and affection that permeate the CD is significant.

The one element missing is the song structure. This is very apparent when switching from the virtuoso songwriting of the Williams CD, where the verse flows flawlessly into the bridge and on into a big climactic chorus. They are very good musicians, (Tommy Lee, of all people, speaks highly of them), and decent pop songwriters and one can often feel the potential lurking about inside the song, but it never comes fully together and clicks on all cylinders. Ordinary World aside, I think Duran Duran has always been at their best when they attack a song, leading with the bass, and they just don’t seem to have the energy for that anymore.

In summary, Astronaut is good, it’s solid and it’s enjoyable if you like their style, but it isn’t great. It’s more So Red the Rose than Rio.