It’s an interesting notion that young groups with enough synth savvy can drop new wave jams out of nowhere, don three or four neon colors and praise everything 1985 and earlier. It’s also interesting that groups like Duran Duran are still doing that 20 years later without having to re-invent themselves to near oblivion. All You Need is Now is a testament to their relevance.
The opening title track patches listeners immediately into a world of slicing saws, punchy/slappy bass lines, and the usual layered chorus a la Simon Le Bon’s distinct New Romantic crooning. “Blame the Machines” and “Being Followed” follow suit with enough pop sheen to make you forget they’re somewhat “too 80s” for their own good. The typical post-punk doom and gloom mixed with authentic UK charm more than put the past decade’s The Killers, The Bravery – or whatever other “The” band that found out how to use a drum machine – to shame. This isn’t retro-chic. Afterall, all they need is “now.”
“Girl Panic!” is the point in the album where, rather than hinting at a potential single, it sums up what other artists’ singles of the past two or three years have been trying to achieve: world beat meets indie dance-ability. With everyone trying to be the next David Byrne or Brian Eno, there was a time when world music played pied piper to the hip romantics of urban settings. Unlike today’s Vampire Weekend or Friendly Fires, having a Latin/African backbeat comes naturally to groups like Duran Duran.
All You Need is Now certainly begs listeners to not quickly pass new wave as a tongue-in-cheek venture. Duran Duran (still) does it with as much urgency, technicality, and urgency as the 18-year-olds with MIDI controllers and a copy of Propellerhead’s Reason. Hopefully, they have a couple more years in them.