Long a fan of Duran Duran and recently a fan of Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, the new Duran Duran record that features the Timba-Lake combo seemed like guaranteed perfection. But I’ve ended up quite disappointed.
The first three songs (“The Valley”, “Red Carpet Massacre”, and “Nite Runner”) should have been the big hits from the record but end up falling flat. You can hear the Timbaland influence but the killer beats aren’t there. And of course you can tell that it is Simon LeBon’s voice, but he sounds a little too disinterested. Nelly Furtado may have delivered low-key performance on her Timbaland collaborations but there’s a difference between low-key and disinterested.
The only song that has the real Timbaland juice is “Skin Divers”. Great beat. LeBon is still a little too disinterested on the verses but the chorus makes up for it with Timbaland’s rap. This song is simultaneously my favorite and the least Duran-ish song on the whole record. Weird.
“Tempted” is my second favorite on the disc and probably the most successful Duran-Timbaland combination. The beat sounds like it could have come from the mind of either Nick Rhodes or Timbaland – perhaps it was both. “Zoom In” is similar – good modern beat yet still Duran-ish.
“Falling Down” definitely has a good Justin Timberlake vibe to it. It’s Pop-py but lacks a little zing and punch. Not JT’s best work, but his best here.
Other songs like “Box Full O’Honey” just plain suck.
Overall, this record is better than no Duran Duran record but it’s missing winners that were on the previous album like “Sunrise” and “Astronaut” (the song). You have to wonder if the absence of Andy Taylor had anything to do with it. How much a part of the creative process is Andy and how important is his guitar work? Regardless, I hope the next disc gets closer to the Astronaut record.
Note: This record came out November 2007 and I’ve had it since then. But I was so initially disappointed by it that I put it away and didn’t listen to for months. Then, when Duran Duran came to town for a concert, it was worth checking out the album again and it improved with age. Or perhaps it improved the further I got from my initial expectations. This review would have been much harsher back in November 2007.
Rating: 6 (out of 10)