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Duran Duran / Paper Gods review

paper2

A track-by-track guide to the new Duran Duran album.

Paper Gods (Featuring Mr Hudson)

Paper Gods starts with its title track and it’s certainly an album highlight. With it’s social/political commentary, Simon at least has something to say and the seven-minute opener is an ambitious work, nicely structured. 4/5

Last Night In The City (Featuring Kiesza)

This has a dramatic dubstep-style intro with Kiesza singing the first lines. It sounds very ‘modern’ and poppy although you wish Le Bon had developed the ‘Last Night In The City’ concept a bit more so that you felt something for the protagonists in the song. You don’t really know WHY it’s might be their last night, other than “no one cares if there’s no tomorrow” (you also don’t know why no one cares about that,  either!). Am I asking too much of a pop lyric for at least some meaning? I guess Le Bon came up with the title and just worked it up as much as he thought he needed to. This is a recurring problem with Paper Gods as we shall see. 3/5

You Kill Me With Silence

You half expect Le Bon to come in rapping at the beginning of You Kill Me With Silence (remember White Lines?) but it doesn’t happen, thankfully. Not really a very good song at all – dull lyric, boring chorus and nothing approaching a good melody. Some of the synth work echoes The Chauffeur1/5

Pressure Off (Featuring Janelle Monáe and Nile Rodgers)

Easy to see why this was chosen as the first ‘single’. While Pressure Off doesn’t exactly give any Duran classics a run for their money, it takes the job of being ‘catchy’ fairly seriously in a similar fashion to Reach Up (For The Sunrise) back in 2005. Unlike virtually every song on this album, this has a very good chorus despite the dubious ‘oh oh oh oh oh oh’ refrain. Extra points for the groovy Janelle Monáe refrain. 4/5

Face For Today

The only song on the album Nick Rhodes doesn’t receive a writing credit for, Face For Today has a satisfying synthy verse and decent flowing chorus. One of the better album tracks, to be honest, although lyrically impermeable. 3/5

Danceophobia 

This is the ‘silly’ song on the album, the Bedroom Toys or the Hallucinating Elvis. It’s not actually too bad, although the rhyming with the ‘word’ Danceophobia is knowingly naff.  If you were wondering why Lindsay Lohan features on a Duran Duran album, you’ll find the answer here – she has spoken word role of a ‘doctor’ towards the end. If this was a B-side I might be raving about it, but you do wonder what it’s doing slap bang in the middle of a new DD album. 2/5

What Are The Chances

I guess this is supposed to be a lighters-in-the-air mid-paced ballad. The trouble is, it lacks a great melody and the lyrics are inane. This is the chorus: “So, what are the chances / We’ll never know, if we take it for granted”. Come on, Simon. This dirge goes on for four minutes and 56 seconds too long. 1/5

Sunset Garage

Sunset Garage starts off quite well; crisp drumbeat, nice synth work. Simon comes in with a drawling vocal and it looks like this is going somewhere… until the chorus “What ever happens, we’re okay – hey we’re still aliveeee! To watch a sunset garage day, heading to the light”. What? Even without the dodgy lyrics, the best you can say about this is that it’s quite breezy, maybe a bit of a singalong. The chorus outro benefits for a slightly Motown-y beat. 3/5

Change The Skyline (Featuring Jonas Bjerre)

This pacey number is co-written by Mr Hudson and features Danish musician and singer Jonas Bjerre. It has a fast verse, slow chorus structure. Despite all the supposed innovation and inspiration from the other artists involved, this is another Paper Gods track that fails miserably to be memorable – the chorus is too slow with a melody that just washes over you. 2/5

Butterfly Girl

This features John Frusciante (he provides a nice angular solo), although the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ songwriter and guitarist doesn’t get a writing credit. This track at least sounds a bit more like Duran Duran and has a female vocalist doing some effective Come Undone style vocals on the insistent verses. The chorus is REALLY awful though…”You can make it through tomorro-ow / set free your butterfly girl / And when you rise above the sorro-ow / you’ll be a butterfly girl”. The chorus is the only weak element, but hey, that’s quite an important part of the song. Annoying, because this could have been very good. 3/5

Only In Dreams

This has everyone working on it – produced by “Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson; Additional production: Mr Hudson and Josh Blair”. It is actually pretty satisfying, largely because for the first time on the album melody and words combine to credit something reasonably evocative. As with Last Night In the City you wish Le Bon would take the job of developing the lyric a bit more seriously, rather than making do with lines like “There’s a vampire in the limousine”.  Despite this, he gets away with it, showing what a difference even one decent line (“Only in dreams...”) can make, rather than meaningless choruses about skylines, sunset garages etc. This does actually sound the most like something from Notorious, and Nile Rodgers contribution is significant. Le Bon’s vocal is good too, although it has that weird auto-tuned timbre to it. Might be my favourite from Paper Gods4/5

The Universe Alone

Simon sounds very whiny on The Universe Alone. What’s happened to those dulcet tones that gave us Save A Prayer and Ordinary World? He seems to think if he sings an average melody with enough purpose and gusto, it will sound better. It doesn’t. The melody sounds very under-developed, almost as if he’s making it up as he goes alone. Disappointing end to a disappointing album. 2/5

Summary

Duran Duran keep putting forward the suggestion that this album somehow channels the spirit of Notorious, but Paper Gods contains nothing as sophisticated as A Matter Of Feeling, as direct as Hold Me (with its brilliant middle eight), as funky as So Misled or as moving as Winter Marches On. And they are four Notorious album tracks, never mind the ‘hits’.

It pains me to bring this up, but does Simon Le Bon have anything to say anymore? A simple B-side like We Need You (from the Skin Trade single) moves me a million times more than ANYTHING on this album. And I want to be moved. I want to feel something. Give me something that connects – Big Thing’s The Edge of America is far superior to The Universe Alone if we’re talking about epic ‘I’m all alone’ album closers.

At its core, Paper Gods houses a good half-dozen completely forgettable tracks including, You Kill Me With SilenceFace For Today, Danceophonia, What Are The Chances, Sunset Garage, and Change The Skyline. To borrow a phrase from Armando Iannucci’s Veep, these amount to little more than ‘noise-shaped air’. Meaningless, inane lyrics, uninspired melodies, and music that half the time sounds like the band stayed at home. Can anyone pick out a great Nick Rhodes ‘moment’ on the album, like the piano phrase from Too Late Marlene, or the famous Save A Prayer synth line. Did anyone smile listening to some standout John Taylor bass playing – like on Skin Trade?

Duran Duran appear to be obsessed with their ‘sound’, their place in the world and ‘not looking back’ (except when they play the hits every night on tour). They do so much navel gazing in between EVERY album that they often forget to just get the basics right. Write some good songs. They also have a habit of doing something good (Big Thing, The Wedding Album, Astronaut) and throwing away all the hard-earned goodwill by then doing something a bit rubbish (Liberty, Thank You and Red Carpet Massacre, respectively).

Even though I think 2011’s All You Need Is Now is rather overrated, it was a decent stab at embracing the classic Duran Duran ‘sound’ and putting the band at the centre of things. Paper Gods unfortunately maintains the pattern outlined above – the drop in quality is palpable.

Like banks who offer the best mortgage rates to new customers only, Paper Gods doesn’t deliver much to the existing fanbase who are in their forties and fifties, but the album is transparent in its attempts to attract new, younger audience –  hence the collaborations have to be advertised on the track names.

Perhaps all the collaborations on Paper Gods will help Duran Duran shift units, deliver crossover appeal and make them more ‘marketable’ thanks to massive social media reach, but it doesn’t appear to make the songs any better. Back to basics next time, methinks. Paper Gods is out now.

Overall rating –  2/5

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[…] Did it really deserve a seat at the table? Well, I thought this was the best track on the album at the time and stand by that opinion. Although it’s in dire need of editing (six minutes, really?) it […]

Donald Jones

What Are the Chances? is quite possibly my favorite DD track recorded since they reunited. You Kill Me With Silence isn’t far behind. I find it a bit odd that even though All You Need Is Now was more of a return to form album than I dared to hope for, not much sticks out of the
pack. Paper Gods isn’t quite as consistent as AYNIN, but the songs that do are really perfection. The bonus tracks available only on the disc sold at Target are really good, as well.

Gary

I think this album gets better over time and the live versions add another dimension.

Initially I didn’t like the album and idea of collaborations but it has certainly grown on me, and it’s great to see a lot of publicity for the upcoming tour.

Not sure how you can give What are the Chances 1/5 and Dancephobia 2/5 which to me is the worst track on the album.

What are the Chances is a great song and more traditional to the DD sound, but the collaborations also work well – Last Night in the City live on Today show is a good example.

Anyone else liking the album more now we are a few months since the release?

Jason Brown

Well, got the album a couple of days ago and…s’alright. Not their best, not their worst. I understand the comments re Red Carpet Massacre, but I quite like that album, so no problem there.

It’s not as strong as All You Need Is Now (which had at least three copper-bottomed classic tracks on it), but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as some people are making it out to be.

Plus, with regards to the comments about trying to stay relevant? As the album has hit both UK & US top 10 – first time in 22 years! – I suspect the band will be thinking mission accomplished.

What I think they need now is a career spanning box set, to put the whole caboodle into context…

Chris N

What are you all – and Paul in particular – nagging about? Clearly this is just the point of view of some individual, not some institute. If you don’t like it, then don’t like it. If you do, then just do. That’s it.
To me it’s more interesting to see how the majority feels, and so far the album gets more attention and praise than the last ten albums together. That;s more than enough for me and I suppose for the band as well since there’s more than ever well earned attention to this soldering on band that has been underrated for ages now. It’s time for some revenge on their part. And right they are.

DeeperOne

I have deeply enjoyed reading both the review and the wondrous stream of comments. I’ll add a few to the mix, if anyone happens to read, my gratitude to you.
I have been a huge DD fan since the beginning, multiple live shows, I’ve listened to every album countless times, (much like many of you). I know everyone has a different opinion here, and that is what makes life great. When I first heard DD were back in the studio, I was both excited and worried. I really liked what they did with AYNIN, and I had a feeling the possibility of replicating the sound and mood of that one was quite slim. And I won’t go for a long drawn out explanation on my favorite DD albums, but I will say I’ve always preferred their trademark rock/synth/moody sounds over the attempts at straightforward funky soul, but that has a place as well if done properly. Nonetheless, I was seriously concerned when I saw the album art. DD has always been interesting and innovative in the album cover image choices.To me, this artwork is something that should be used on a greatest hits package, right? It pays tribute to many of their classic songs/albums, not a new album of all original material. It seems as a “nostalgia” visual marketing/selling scheme. Anyway, I was at first completely turned off by the songs. Not much here in the way of JT bass or RT drumming. Even Nick’s DD sound is muted or sporadic at best. I decided to consider this a LeBon solo album, and write it off as rubbish. But then I realized, perhaps a band or artist can only create a certain sound, so much, before ultimately horrifically repeating themselve(s). Limitations exist in the universal plane of creation when set to any boundaries. Long story short, I listened to the album in full, without expectations, taking it straight at face value. And you know what happened…I liked it. No, this is not a great DD album. Is it good? Yes, in its own way. Is it what I wanted? No. But I can tell you now, I’m very happy that I gave it a chance. Upon repeated listening, though far from a masterpiece, there is enough here that is entertaining and intriguing. And at this stage of the band’s career, after close to 35(!) years, perhaps that’s all we can really expect.

Gabe E.

I think this is a pretty fair assessment and an honest overview of the album. I agree with a lot of the points you make here. Some of the album has grown on me after repeated listening. Thanks for the breath of fresh air in your observations.

MarkyB

Pretty much sums up how I viewed this album. Was expecting, hoping for more John Taylor and Roger Taylor interaction but there’s so much production on this that they are buried and initially I wrote it off… after a few more listens, it’s grown on me. I guess I got with the program-ming. ;-)

It’s a feature of guitarists (Nile, Steve Jones, Frusciante, Dom Brown) and I think they went for the most produced album they could without becoming just a ProTools session. I’m a big fan of “Northern Lights”, “Planet Roaring”, “Paper Gods”, “The Universe Alone” and even the more clubbish tracks like “Change The Skyline” and “Face For Today” but I miss the holy trinity of bass, guitar and drums of Duran Duran.

talibunny

the ugly side of POP :(

Wayne

‘By the way, Simon HATES “A Matter of Feeling” (he called it a misguided attempt to rewrite “Save a Prayer”)’

I never knew that. Surprised. Strangely, I think A Matter of Feeling is so much better than Save A Prayer in every aspect.

Mark R

Simon doesn’t hate “A Matter Of Feeling”. He dislikes how they purposely tried to make another “Save A Prayer”. John cleared this up recently.

Jason

Oh Paul–and Big Thing had some silly lyrics too…title track for one (man, that’s a stinker). Drug? Not very original. All She Wants Is? Some may find that rather annoying. Then you’ve got Do You Believe in Shame. The ups n downs of being LeBon…

Jason

Wow! There’s a lot of comments here! At least it proves the fans who wanted to write DD off 30 years ago are STILL passionate! That being said, yes there are some harsh things in the review (mainly “What Are the Chances” is the BEST song–did we hear the same album?–I actually sort of like the “Diamond explodes” bit of the lyric), and yes, AYNIN is probably their third best album after the first two, but this is ultimately one listener’s opinion and people need to not take it so personally. I give the band credit for not repeating themselves over and over and at least TRYING to stay current (at the risk of losing track of who plays what)…it’s a very tough world out there now and DD’s age does not do them any favors. (…and John Frusciante should join NOW)

My big complaint on the Duran is the price of the vinyl. $35US for an album that has nothing particularly special about it other than being a double gatefold. At least we were led to think the silly cover images were decals or something! Couldn’t they have made it scratch n sniff?!? Not even sure it’s pressed on 180gram. My shop has to pay $24 just to carry the damn thing when most records run about $15-20. THAT’s the ripoff, that Universal knows their fans are older, have some money, and will pay. Wonder why they think they can get $40+ for the new Lana Del Rey vinyl?! Oh yeah–middle age men with extra cash love her…but can a teenager afford that? Crazy.

Also to address the long rant earlier, I quite like all the recent Depeche Mode albums, as one gets the sense they have really been affected by Martin’s dealing with his parental issues by exploring darker and bluesier American soul (who would have thought from the “Just Can’t Get Enough” guys). However, I agree there is little to be found redeeming in Madonna’s last couple releases. Kylie’s one album in which she wrote most of the lyrics (Impossible Princess) was actually much deeper than said ranter gives her credit for as her other poppier songs are mostly written by committee engineered to give her hits. Again, these are just my personal opinions.

By the way, Simon HATES “A Matter of Feeling” (he called it a misguided attempt to rewrite “Save a Prayer”), and if you look back over their career, some of the best DD songs were from the first couple records and had bonkers lyrics. Even if a song like “Goodbye is Forever” or “Michael You’ve Got a Lot to Answer For” have deep meanings, some of their best like “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “New Moon on Monday” have very little depth. That’s the up and down of Simon’s writing style–some things have meaning, while some are just about fashion or celebrity, and while “Danceaphobia” won’t win him any writing awards, you can see the Daft Punk-as-inspiration in that song. It’s supposed to put us in touch with our silly sides. I’d rather have that than a pompous tendency to overreach for something beyond his grasp (“The Universe Alone”, while it has decent music, lyrically it’s a step too far after what’s come before.)

I didn’t mean to write this much! Sorry!

Kauwgompie

Just came back from the Paper Gods concert in NYC at Terminal 5. A small venue. A couple of years ago during the All You Need Is Now tour they played the MSG, now a very small place. They started with Paper Gods, a beautiful song. They played 4 songs from the new album. Later came Pressure Off (sounds very nice live), Last Night In The City and the awful Dancophobia. During the new songs, John played synth bass except for Paper Gods. Last Night In The City I actually like. It’s a good song but it sounds absolutely awful live. It’s sung in a very high note and i’m almost positive there was some serious autotune going on. Or some form of cheating. It did not sound real at all. I think they won’t play this song live anymore after the Paper Gods tour is over. It’s just too high and at some point all you hear is shouting with autotune or so. The other stuff was great and sounded fine. Except for Last Nght In The City the band did well and finished off in a rather long medley of Dancophobia, a disco version of Too Much Information and an updated dance version of Girls On Film. All In one go. Dancophobia is a terrible song, a lot of beats and no melody. The disco version of Too Much Information was interesting as well as the updated Girls On Film version. Above some people say Dancophobia could have come from Liberty. I agree with that. It’s just noise. I can’t believe they even put it on this album, let alone play it live. They did not play a single song from All You Need Is Now. I have seen DD now 4 times. This was an average concert. They also played White Lines which I absolutely don’t like either. It’s a waste of time to play an obscure cover song at your concert when there are so many DD songs that you can play but didn’t. Anyway, there are some good songs on the Paper Gods album, and a few bad ones. My first impression is that it is not as good as All You Need Is Now but it’s not a bad effort. They clearly moved towards a more electronic sound. I think Nick (who by the way looks more and more like some nasty old perv guy with his terrible comb-over) won a lot of battles in the studio. Either way, it’s a mixed bag, an inconsistent effort at minimum.

Straker

“I think Nick (who by the way looks more and more like some nasty old perv guy with his terrible comb-over) won a lot of battles in the studio.”

Nick’s slowly devolved into a slightly portly Andy Warhol:
http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/02/17/article-0-17A12737000005DC-95_634x574.jpg

Kauwgompie

Absolutely, haha!!

Andres Quiroga

Can’t get over yet from the monumental disaster this new Duran Duran album turned out to be. The most accurate way to describe it would be like an utterly forgettable and poorly conceived musical effort. I’m a proud fan of Duran Duran since the RIO days, so it’s hard for me to admit that this time the boys blew it big time. The only worthy track is the first single “Pressure Off”, a fantastic return to the funky sounds from the NOTORIOUS era. The rest is boring, obscure and rather uninspired. Better luck next time!

Chris Bernhardt

The Most negative comments I’ve read about this record are in this review and in the following comments. Paul, I agree with you that AYNIN is overrated , but I’m digging this so far, but I liked RCM quite a bit, and this feels as a extension of that. The title track and You Kill Me With Silence are upper , upper tier Duran songs. You need to relisten to YKMWS.

Wendell

I have to disagree about some vinyl comments. My copy is mint. Very quiet surface.
The album is split into 2 disks, 3 songs per side, mastered by Sterling.
Every song has the dynamic range of a 12″ 45.
No distortion. Plenty of thumping bass and highs.
As for the content, well, I have to play it a few more times until I am used to the songs, before I make that judgement. But nothing wrong with the vinyl.

Mark R

Mine is also quiet but there was a harshness to it when I played it. However, I was on strong medication at the time! Just expected more goodies in within the album sleeve and for the vinyl to be heavy duty, not 80’s thin.
A lot of people here mention AYNIN as their best ever. It a great album for sure, but there are some crap filler tracks on it as well: Network Nation, Other People’s Lives, the instrumental interludes. I prefer the iTunes 9-track release. Add Mediterranea and it’s perfect! One thing Duran are guilty of is quality over quality. I know most albums these days are around 12 tracks long but give me 10 and it’s enough.

Silvy

uhh! sorry to say, but the sound of the new work is awful and I’m a DD’s fan. :-(
p.s. going back to listen “All you need is now” :-)

Peter Gardner

I agree wholeheartedly with the review. The album was a HUGE disappointment to me. The joy of All You Need Is Now (and working with Mark Ronson) was that they were no longer embarrassed to sound like Duran Duran! This is them going back to the mess of Red Carpet Massacre where they think collaborating with cool people is guaranteed to give good results. The title track and Pressure Off are the only tracks which would even be CONSIDERED for All You Need Is Now (not guaranteed they’d make it though). After all the talk of working with the world’s number one Durannie (Ronson) again and Nile Rodgers, it says a lot that they only worked on 2 songs! Their influence is sadly lacking throughout the album. It reminds me of 90s dancey Madonna! So disappointed.

Wayne

I still haven’t heard the album in full and am rather worried to. Pressure Off is very average and Paper Gods is great. They are still the only two tracks i’ve heard – they have both been given 4/5 and that is why i’m worried ;-)

That said, there is no way they will ever top AYNIN. An album that good and at that stage of their career? Not many bands can pull that one off imo.

Somebody mentioned about Duran not playing hits at gigs – when they did the small UK gigs in 2011, they played the majority of AYNIN and sounded fantastic along with the likes of Secret Oktober, Shadows On Your Side and Hold Back The Rain. The only ‘hits’ were the boring Come Undone (i’ve never liked it live), Notorious and Sunrise iirc and yes, I wish they’d do more setlists like that.

However, for me personally, the real test of new music is hearing it live so maybe it will be a few months for it to sort it self out. Even AYNIN weakest point (Safe) sounded fairly decent live.

Will pick the album up later and expect the worse.

Kauwgompie

See my review of their live show in NYC below…

Mark R

I agree with Chris. Some people are disappointed for what it’s isn’t rather than for what it is. It has few DD trademarks, however I’m loving it. Still pi$$ed off about the vinyl packaging though. The cover I’ve got used to but still do not understand it.

Thomas Staudt^

As a DD fan since 1982, I unfortunately have to agree with most things Paul said.
I had the same “did John and Roger play on this song at all?” feeling I had with Red Carpet Massacre.
I actually did like Pressure Off, even the ohohohs, but couldn’t imagine this was almost the sole highlight of the album.
Super excited for the album after the previous one, but I think if Simon’s voice wasn’t so unique, I wouldn’t have recognized any of the songs as DD songs.
While the AYNIN might have overdone the reuse of classic DD keyboard sounds, this album shows none of the DD trademarks.

Chris

Not sure how to articulate this but I’ll try. Your review is accurate but I disagree………….you’re disappointed in what the album isn’t as opposed to liking it for what it is which, I’ll assume isn’t what you wanted it to be. DD haven’t been very deep in a while and even when they obviously were conveying a message such as on “Blame the Machines”, it wasn’t very deep and I don’t think I’ve seen them saying they are important or have something all that important to say. The record’s sonics and vocals for me are terrific, not that I get any deep meaning from the lyrics but the vocals fit the music and vice versa and the album is extremely interesting in that it mocks and celebrates our paper thin culture, the album is a potpourri of musical styles with performances from different corners of popular culture, influences…..everything that is spinning around in the orbit of popular culture right now(which isn’t very impressive to begin with) has been harnessed here. DD have observed what’s out there and interpreted it their way and for me, it equates to a great listen.
I’ll admit a bias here, I grew up on The Clash, New York Dolls, T Rex, Talking Heads, Simple Minds and admired pop, yacht rock, from a distance when no one was looking. Most of us know that the 80’s went pop, big sounds that was penned to fill the arenas the artists were hoping to play and I played along and made my peace with it. Occasionally, an album would come out and slap you in the face with how good it was but much of it was made for the times and people just wanted to have some fun after the doldrums of the 70’s…..despite the awesome disco music, Exile’s one song, Ambrosia….etc.
What this means is that I started to like DD after growing up a little and stopped trying to be so serious, they made great records and I found something to like in all of them going forward………even Liberty and Thank You.
Now here we are, this band that so many rooted against picked themselves back up for the umpteenth time and made a record that, for me reflects our shallow world where, to paraphrase Chrissie Hynde…..female singers practically have to pole dance to get attention because their music……………SUCKS…..for the most part. I’d take Skeeter Davis and Siouxsie Sioux over 99 percent of this bollocks in a heartbeat. Don’t be too hard on the boys Paul, there’s some good stuff in there…..even some great stuff in there…….even if it isn’t the stuff you may have wanted.

Joe

‘Paper Gods’ is a contrived, pathetic, and downright insulting attempt by DD to ‘trick’ a new audience (younger) into buying the record by slapping 20 different names on it.

And the music sucks. Yes, there are a few good tunes; Planet Roaring, Northern Lights, Butterfly Girl, Face for Today… But 4 or 5 good songs out of the 17 released (including all the various bonus tracks) is a paltry showing.

Never have I seen a bunch of 50 year old English guys trying to sound like a 20 year old pop star. Ridiculous.

Doug

I agree! All the hype saying that it’s a return to the classic sound should have been a dead giveaway. It’s like medazzaland and red carpet massacre and I HATED those albums. They need to get rid of that waste of space Mark Ronson! I fear my time of anticipating new Duran albums is now at an end. Andy was always my favorite member anyways.

jeff

I can’t wait for the 20/25/30th deluxe/super deluxe anniversary edition. Will be interesting to see how it fares over time…..

Brendan

Must say, I took to Spotify to sample the goods, and as a long-suffering Duranie, I guess I will say this one left me wishing the title was Bog Roll.

Gary Russell

I like the album a lot but each to their own. What I can’t get my head around is people complaining about Simon’s voce not being the same as it was 30+ years ago! Of course it isn’t – no one’s voice ever is. What a ridiculous complaint to make about a singer.

Gaz

I think Paul nailed this review of Paper Gods and I agree with him on nearly all the points made because for me the albums problems are so obvious. The main problem for me lies with the band and their obvious lack of confidence in believing that between the 4 of them they are still capable of making great music. All you ever hear them say in interviews is that their constantly trying to strive to keep their sound ‘up to date’ and clearly think they can only accomplish this if they do collaborations with DJ’s and musicians that most of us wouldn’t give a second listen to. Why is it so important for them to make an album that they feel appeals to a younger audience when the majority of their avid and loyal fan base must surely be youths of the 80’s that are now in their 40’s and 50’s and not necessarily interested in the fact that Justin Timberlake, Lindsay Lohan, Ana Matronic or Mark bloody Ronson make appearances – we’re buying a Duran Duran album ffs!!!

I just wish the band would go in to a studio with a single producer and make an album with at least SOME feeling to it, rather than the tosh we get about being ‘danceaphobic’. The album doesn’t speak to me about anything, nothing on it resonates and lyrically it sounds inept for a band with a wealth of experiences and personal history to pull from.

I know the band can make a great album again and ex-member Andy Taylor believed that they could too before he was asked to leave the band after the ‘Reportage’ sessions.

I just wish the band believed that they could too…

Garax

The title track slightly reminds me of Take Me I’m Yours by Squeeze in parts – might just be me though!

Paul Kent

I’m not interested in this album, or this review, at all. However, I’m compelled to post after reading your week in review e-mail, Paul. This week you write at length about DD never going away, filling up news feeds about the album, hyping it up to high heaven. Is this not a tad disingenuous? I mean, you’ve not stopped banging on about it yourself (by normal SDE standards, anyway). There was a post about the cover, one about the 2-LP version, one which was a how-to-buy guide, this which is a review, plus this week’s e-mail. There will be no mention of black pots/kettles and biting feeding hands from me… with respect.

Paul Kent

Touché, sir. I’d hope you know it was a tongue-in-cheek dig, Paul. Nice come back, though :D

Mark

A review is one person’s opinion and not necessarily the right opinion….for you. It’s about how YOU feel about it, not somebody else.

I agree with some of what Paul has written, for instance Dancephobia is crap. Yep, it sure is. However, I’m not looking for deep or meaningful lyrics on an album such as this. It’s a modern, fun pop album by a band who thought they’d take a risk. It’s not going to please everyone, especially those looking for a new RIO (give me a break, yes it’s their best album but it’s over 33 years old!) or AYNIN ( a great album but it has clunkers like Other People’s Lives, Network Nation and those bloody awful instrumentals. The iTunes 9-track version was the best).

I’ve bought the album with an open mind and I like it. It’s fun, it’s pop and it’s modern. It’s also different and not a DD I recognise but I’m happy to take it in. I loved Pressure Off the moment I heard it. Likewise the title track. You Kill Me With Silence I’m unsure about, same with Last Night In The City. The rest with the exception of Dancephobia is pretty good..in my own humble opinion and the bonus tracks Valentine Stones and Northern Lights should have been on the standard album rather than the last two I mentioned. Ok, Roger is playing Roland V-Drums and John is playing a Moog synth bass on many tracks but I don’t mind. I remember seeing them play Red Carpet Massacre in its entirety at the London Lyceum and really enjoyed it, more so than the actual album, but what was also great was the Electro-Set where they played Last Chance On The Stairway and a few others on keyboards and V-drums only. It made a change from the usual run of hits. Possibly one of my favourite ever gigs! To me here they are doing the same, having a go and not giving a f#€%. I applaud them for it.

I have to add that Simon’s vocals are the best they have been for years. The coaching he had after rupturing a vocal fold in 2011 has made a big difference to his delivery. However, I feel that he sometimes over sings, trying to prove he’s still got it. I miss the lower range work he does so well and this could have been used to great effect on some tracks here.

The artwork I still do not get. I know it references their past but why? The packaging is bloody awful as well. I have the vinyl edition (made in EU), it has no lyric sheet, no booklet, just a credit sheet and the vinyl itself is around 120gr mark instead of the usual 180gr for modern day releases. It’s also a little too harsh. DD usually like to package well their albums though not always to great effect (think RCM) so I do not know why this is so sparse. Mind you, so was the Notorious album!

At the end of the day, some people like it, some won’t. It appears to be selling well but it’s still early days to say whether or not it’s a success.

Gabe E.

Longtime DD fan here. I’ve supported the band wholeheartedly through personnel changes, stylistic changes, ups and downs. I’ll never stop supporting them; being a dedicated fan of theirs is in my blood. Their music and their presence have been a vital part of my life for decades. However, this review is as boldly truthful as it is accurate. I don’t need rehash and a retread of past glories; but what I need even less is a strong, self-sufficient band trying to fit into a vapid, faceless contemporary sound that in no way represents what they’re truly capable of. I believe in looking forward and carving out a new path…but one that has been paved by the band itself. Stop trying to sound like the faceless dolts who clog radio airwaves today. All the craft and panache the band has perfected for decades is now being traded in for a desperate need to appear contemporary and modern; a paranoia that never plagued this innovative band before.

David

Gabe well said,I think that sums it up perfectly.The reason so many people work with them is due to the music made in the past,yet working with these artists Only ends up making them sound out of touch and desperate to be contemporary.Which is a crying shame as they made some of the most forward thinking pop music of the 80’s.

David

It’s a point of view people,we don’t all like the same things,get over it.Its not forcing you to dislike it.Its not a haters review just Paul’s opinion.
I doubt I’d buy it as the last album of theirs I loved would be the wedding album or Big thing.

Paul Bunn

If you go by your scoring, this album gets 32 out of 60 points. My math gives it a little better than 2.5. I think your personal disappointment in the album influenced the score that you gave it song by song

Will

well Paul, i’m glad someone agreed with my ‘come undone’ female vocal reference i posted the other day on here, I like some of the album, love a few tracks and kind of hope a few others grow on me, that’s about as good as i can offer. Btw if ever you want to look at someone who builds up their albums causing feverish excitement followed by crushing disappointment….step forward Bono of U2

Justin

It’s flawed for sure, but I think it’s a hugely enjoyable listen.

Michael Bird

Also, why even run reviews? They’re only ever divisive and obviously never definitive.

Michael Bird

I’ve been a fan since ’83 and I have no idea what you’re listening to, but the album I have is their most consistent and compelling since the original three. I’ve not taken to anything they’ve released since 84 as quickly as I have this one. I haven’t loved everything here save a couple of moments. The only two star track for me here is “Planet Roaring” and that was obviously a castoff, being only on the deluxe release (the other four of the deluxe tracks are quite good).

That said, I don’t discount your experience. I’m sure this review is an honest account of what you heard. That said, you’re obviously fixated on bands from the past. Perhaps you’re holding bands to account for their ability to help you revisit the past. This is a brilliant modern pop record taken on its own.

As for lyrics, well, Simon’s TS Elliot days have long past and they’re not coming back. But I do think some on this record are among his finest of the modern era. “The Universe Alone” brought tears to my eyes. Honestly.

Lucy

Can’t say it better than Michael did.

Paul Edwards

Music is all about opinions. I find it interesting that you can only have an objective view of Paper Gods if you don’t like it!
I love Paul’s writing and his review is to the usual high standard but other fans can have different views without being abused (not by Paul I might add!).
One thing that interested me about paper gods is whether it’s been polished so much it lacks warmth in places. Duran have a habit of doing that- the wedding album and astronaut were polished so much they lost their charm. The astronaut demos are far superior to the final product, what happens tomorrow for example was edited to death just to make it a hit, which didn’t work! I’d be interested to see what sort of journey the tracks on this record made.
The only thing we all agree on here is that the album cover is complete and utter nonsense

Clint

I like the album cover. It represents DD and the items in their videos of days past. The mouth with sharp teeth-The Wild Boys, the yellow wine glass & the pink phone-RIO, the hat-The Chauffeur, the sumo-Girls on Film, the tiger – SATRT etc……….

Sven

I’m NOT a VERY BIG Duran Duran fan, my favourite bands (from whom I have to buy all studio albums at least) are a-ha, blur, Suede, Faith no more, Travis, Indochine, Nirvana, Wolf Alice, Beastie Boys…

But I like Duran Duran and have purchased at least some of their studio work (Wedding, Best of, Pop Trash, Astronaut, Red Carpet, All you need is now).

I must admit that I really like All you need is now and – surprise, surprise! – the refreshing Red Carpet Massacre and hence cannot fully agree with Paul. Astronaut is quite weak, in contrast.

Neil Kelly

Wow i much prefer Astronaut to RCM. We’re all so different

Craig Hedges

On the off chance that one of the duran lads should look in on this site, (they obviously aren’t going to be happy) Something I really think they should do is a one off or short run of concerts as Arcadia and perform the So Red the Rose album, perhaps do it in a London theatre or some dramatic setting. They could also perform some more of their obscure Duran tracks like My Antartica, and Winter Marches On.
To my knowledge I think they have only performed Election Day live the past.
SRTR has grown significantly in status (it’s been described as the best Duran album – Duran never made) and is about to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary.
Would other Durannies like to see this?

Clint

Some of you guy’s kill me. It doesn’t sound like this album, it doesn’t sound like that album. Then go back and buy THAT album. Change is good, sometimes. And in this case, it works for DD. Agree, some songs are not as good as others, but that’s the way it is on every album. “Some of the lyrics don’t work here.”(I’m laughing out loud)………why are you listen to the words and not the beat. I’ve never heard somebody say they didn’t buy the album because of the lyrics!!!This is a great album. You have to break eggs to make an omelet, and DD did it here.

Clint

Or how about ” I am the eggman, they are the eggmen
I am the walrus, goo goo g’ joob!! They ARE a dance band, also. They’ve said it themselves.

DJ Control

I like mine a little bit runny thanks!

Scott Davies

I’m happy to see a more objective review than the endless stream of impressionable diehards trying to convince everyone to like it as some sort of “growth”. To say anything is wrong with this album is to be considered “harsh”. But seeing that some of the comments here are along the same line, I’m just going to reaffirm a comment I added to various comments on my Amazon review of this atrocity:

It’s pretty amazing how many comments are showing up around the internet of people having to listen over and over before they start finding some appeal in the album. “It’s a grower.” No, it’s a disaster. I think that’s a pretty clear sign that things have gone wrong when people have to convince themselves through repeated listenings and forced self-insistence that it’s not garbage. It’s like forcing a kid to eat their veggies, and just maybe they will learn to like them in time. It’s bad, really bad, and even if they are a favorite band of some people, you shouldn’t have to talk yourself into liking it, because in time it’s more than likely to become about as appealing as a power drill.

Lucy

Scott, that’s not what a “grower” is, i.e. “forcing” yourself to like something via repeated listenings. A “grower” is when you say on first listen “OK maybe this is not what I expected, but I’ll listen again with an open mind and give it a chance.” If after a few more listenings you can appreciate what the band is going for and start to like it, it’s a “grower”. If after several listenings you still hate it, like you said that’s probably not going to change. Apparently you fall into the latter category, which is fine- we all like different things, but just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean no one else can. Musical taste is completely subjective.

Eric M.

While this isn’t their most inspired work, I’ve found a 2nd & 3rd listen to be quite rewarding. The hooks aren’t as strong as on their last outing, but the production is solid and pretty intoxicating. One point I agree with you on is that this album shares nothing in common with the album ‘Notorious’ (maybe they haven’t listened to anything except the single in the years since ;). I’d say the album it sounds the most like, if I had to pick one, is ‘Astronaut’: yes, a bit desperate to keep up with the times, but it is largely successful at doing so. Just my 2 cents.

Neil Kelly

1. Duran Duran not playing ANY hits on tour would go down a storm… Not. Every band does this as you would know. Even Numan
2. AYNIN is NOT overrated
3. Album 3.5 IMHO (AYNIN 5/5)
4. ‘You blind me with silence’ 1/5… Laughable
5. ‘What are the chances’ 1/5… Laughable
6. I expect a little better in the review. You seem to be trying your best here on hating
7. ‘Danceophobia’ is the worst track on here
8. I do not care much for lyrics on a DD album although i do love ‘Ordinary World’, ‘Save a prayer’ etc. of course
9. ‘You blind me with silence’ and ‘What are the chances’ scoring lower than Danceophobia? What are the chances… Again, laughable

Neil Kelly

Hi again Paul. I must admit i do not review albums like you do as i have not the time. It’s what you do as a job. I’ve never been too much a lyric person either if i’m honest. I’d also say that you are better qualified. 80’s Duran of course i have the Deluxe edition where appropriate or just the normal CD’s but i do not play over and over as i’m into so many bands. I may’ve taken it a bit personally and realise that i do love most of my fav bands records across the board which most don’t. Having said that i’d confirm i’ve always had a low opinion of Red carpet massacre. I have a high opinion since the reformation of both Astronaut and AYNIN. I’d have to stick by my opinion. The songs you mentioned i can’t even recall right now. Like all of us i wish i had more time for music and more time for a better reply. Overall i’m just passionate about music and my fav artists and feel after a few plays that this is a good album. I do like ‘What are the chances’ but it’s just personal opinion of course. Thanks for the detailed reply i do appreciate it

backwards7

I grew up listening to Duran Duran and I’ve seen their career ride peaks and troughs. Paper Gods falls into the latter category. A disappointment after All You Need Is Now.

The kindest thing I can say about the album is that it’s worthy of its cover.

TheProgster

What are the chances? That this is the best track on the album…answer is…Yes it is !!! what are the chances of Duran Duran ever making an album where every track is absolutely brilliant…answer is…nil….enough said.

JuzzyB

Paul is right, it’s a bit of a stinker. Never mind though, it will probably go away quickly like most latterday Duran albums; the band halfheartedly promote their records for five minutes then bugger off back to their island homes thinking that will do. Even when there is some potential for continued interest with some good singles (as in All You Need Is Now) there are hardly any remixes and no promotion. I predict a fizzle out…

bob

I saw that Culture Club documentary also. Did ever being in a band look such hard work and soul destroying?
I really felt for Jon, Mikey and Roy, Boy George came across as monstrous, spending hours in the make up box and then berating the others for going to a bar to watch a football in their free time.
It will be interesting to see how they promote the new album.

Marko

Listen to the album couple of times. Not bad at all. Much prefer this album than AYNIN. Best tracks so far for me is Face For Today, What Are The Chances, Butterfly Girl, Only In Dreams, Valentine Stones & Change The Skyline. I don’t like Last Night In The City & Danceophobia.

Shawn

This comes from a longtime fan. I tend to buy their albums on or near the release date which is usually followed by a significant degree of disappointment. Yes, I do want a return to past glories without pandering to trends or whims on each different album. Yes, I once wrote years ago that Duran Duran constantly feels the need to reinvent the wheel and it always comes back square. That said, AYNIN was a pleasant surprise, a return to form that I have cooled to slightly. Paper Gods though is an album that I like more than I’d have ever expected. As much as I want to hear swirling keys (there are some) and organic drums (there are pretty much none to these ears), I’m enjoying the record start to finish (save for Danceophobia or whatever it is called). I get a sense of what they’re trying to do and time will tell if it’ll be a success.

As for your criticisms Paul, I’ve never looked to DD for inspirational lyrics. Inanity may be part of the charm. And many of the songs you panned are among my favorites. Strange because I think we are both looking at the album through the same colored glass.

Steve

I pretty much agree with you on the overall rating as barring the bonus tracks, it’s pretty disappointing. Danceophobia is perhaps the worst thing they’ve released in decades. I will disagree with you on What are the Chances and You Kill Me With Silence as they were the two songs that really grabbed me upon first listen. Ideally, the album would have been released with 10 tracks:

Paper Gods
You Kill Me with Silence
Pressure Off
Face For Today
Valentine Stones (deluxe edition bonus track)
What are the Chances?
Butterfly Girl
Northern Lights (deluxe edition bonus track)
Only in Dreams
The Universe Alone

This would have made for a much tighter, less bloated and more enjoyable album IMO.

And you didn’t enjoy All You Need is Now? Blasphemy…easily their 3rd best album with The Man Who Stole A Leopard being their best track since the RIO album.