Duran Duran, "Paper Gods" (Warner Bros.)

Since the early-'00s reunion of its core members, the Duran Duran musicians have tried to find a niche for themselves and the retro-yet-cool New Wave synth-pop sound they helped invent in the 1980s. Their 2007 Timbaland-produced album "Red Carpet Massacre" did not work. But 2010's "All You Need Is Now," with Mark Ronson, highlighted all that was glorious about Duran Duran while maintaining its grooving, melodic base. Ronson returns here and brings producer/guitarist Nile Rodgers along for slick, soulful songs such as "Pressure Off." There's help (including Janelle Monáe and John Frusciante) but Duran doesn't need it. The ruminative "Sunset Garage" is one of the album's sweetest moments, and a sweeping, epic sound in "The Universe Alone" is a genuine surprise. Duran Duran still focuses on its obsessions (big money, fashion, celebrity), yet during "Danceophobia" and the hypnotic title track, they also throw it all away.

a.d. amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer


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