Reviewed by Matt Dentler, Fri., Nov. 26, 2004
Duran DuranAstronaut (Epic)
When it comes to hunger, wolves have got nothing on Duran Duran fans. The band hasn't recorded an album with all five original members since 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Listeners have been teased with six mediocre LPs and one fine "Wedding Album" in varying group incarnations since then. Astronaut is a reunion for the original MTV generation. Unfortunately, the returning fold winds up lost in an overproduced synth shuffle. Since lead singer Simon LeBon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes have remained the only constant forces in the band's career, it's no surprise that on Astronaut, they dominate. Thus, the unrelated Taylors guitarist Andy, bassist John, drummer Roger have come back for no real reason. Many of the songs are choppy and unimaginative, like the tepid "Taste the Summer." The album's best tunes, the gorgeous "Chains" and pretty "Nice," are a river of blips and beats from an all-star producing roster including Dallas Austin (TLC) and Don Gilmore (Linkin Park). For a reunion album, very little of Astronaut sounds like Duran Duran, and even less of it sounds like a band of live players. Otherwise sturdy songs like "Want You More" drown in a sea of programming. Only "One of Those Days" compares to vintage Duran Duran. "Bedroom Toys" sounds old-man creepy when compared to classics like "Girls on Film." With too many songs trying too hard, Duranies will still go hungry for quality.