Duran Duran – All You Need Is Now
In the late ’90s and early ’00s, Duran Duran went through various line up changes, releasing a few middling albums that struggled to update their sound in the face of the ever-changing pop music scene. This culminated in the release of 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre, where the band enlisted the help of producers Danja, Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, fresh off that trio’s monumental success with Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. It did indeed result in the band sounding more contemporary than they had in years, yet their collaborators’ combined presence, along with the hip-hop and club pulse affectations, threatened to overshadow the band. Fortunately, Duran Duran decided to abandon the attempts to update their sound and return to their roots—and their strengths—on their 2010 follow-up, All You Need Is Now, enlisting eclectic producer Mark Ronson to helm the project.
As it turns out, Ronson is the perfect fit for Duran Duran’s return to form as he specializes in both making the classic contemporary, such as with his work with Amy Winehouse, and in more danceable productions for musicians across many genres. This means that no matter how tied to the ’80s the band’s music may be, Ronson remembers that production techniques haven’t been stuck in time, and All You Need Is Now accordingly sounds modern even with its retrogressive tendencies. But it isn’t all the production: this album also features Duran Duran’s strongest set in years. It isn’t exactly the sequel to Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger, but it’s cut from the same cloth. The beats and grooves are slick and sultry, and the choruses are bright and soaring with Simon LeBon singing over all of it like the last 30 years never happened. “All You Need Is Now” and “Blame The Machines” sound like updated versions of Duran Duran classics; “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” and “Before The Rain” develop the darker shades of the band’s personality; “Safe (In The Heat Of The Moment),” on the other hand, is a sexy and funky dance track with Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic playing the part of the seductress. Not every song is as distinct, but every time it seems the songwriting is slipping a bit, Ronson throws in another production trick to keep things interesting. This won’t break through to the pop audience of today by any means, and (oh no!) it’s not exactly innovative, but All You Need Is Now is a great pop album—easily their best since 1993’s Duran Duran—and the kind of album that loyal Duran Duran fans knew the band would make again.