Unrefutably one of the enduring carriers of the New Wave flag, Duran Duran has remained productive and relevant over the years. Formed in 1978, in Birmingham, the English band released its first album in 1981 and, through the years, has achieved worldwide acclaim with its string of albums and singles such as “Girls on Film,” “Rio,” “Hungry like a Wolf,” and “Save a Prayer,” to name just a few.
Even in the Grunge-dominated 1990s, Duran Duran–with its trademark Dance-Pop New Wave sound–did not leave the arena, armed with songs like “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone.”
Ever resilient with their black eyeliners and blue eyeshadows unsmudged, Duran Duran members soldiered on through the decades that followed, releasing record after record and confidently wearing on their sleeves the musical legacy that launched their stellar career.
Now, amidst the still ongoing pandemic, Duran Duran unleashes its fifteenth album, on October 22, 2021, via BMG Records. Titled Future Past, it opens with the throwback yet fresh allure of “Invisible.” Another energetic dance-floor track then follows in the form the infectious “All of You.” And then the mood turns loungy and soulful with “Give It All Up,” featuring the Swedish singer Tove Lo.
Duran Duran’s classy and sophisticated synth-glazed trademark is shining bright with “Anniversary”; Simon LeBon’s vocal swagger has never been less vibrant and inspired. With the ensuing title-track, LeBon and his comrades–Keyboardist Nick Rhodes, Bassist John Taylor, Drummer Roger Taylor and their ensemble of guest musicians–treat the listener to a slow and sparse cinematic balladry, enough to conjure scenes from the 1987 film Some Kind of Wonderful in the mind of the initiated.
A couple more strobelight-worthy pieces, “Beautiful Lies” and “Tonight United,” then bounce their way onto the center of the discotheque; they will fit well onto a playlist that includes similarly styled songs by New Order, Electronic, and Bronski Beat. Nearing the end of the record, Duran Duran then conjures its occasional penchant for Blue-eyed Neo-Romantic balladry with the triumvirate “Wing,” “Nothing Less,” and “Hammerhead,” which is glazed with a Rap part courtesy of the British Hip-hop Artist Ivorian Doll.
After another exotic stomper–“More Joy!”, which features the Japanese girl-band Chai–Duran Duran finally wraps up its latest gem with the piano-led ballad “Falling,” with the legendary pianist Mike Garson’s gracing this apt album closer.
Whatever anyone might have to say against the hardworking and persevering band, Duran Duran remains one of, if not the most successful and longest-running in the annals of New Wave music. Future Past is yet another neon-bright brilliance in their sonic artillery. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Future Past 4 out of 5 stars.