Duran Duran, ‘Danse Macabre': Album Review
A concept album at heart, Duran Duran's Danse Macabre was triggered by a Halloween 2022 concert in Las Vegas in which the band worked through its catalog, pulling out obscurities that tied into the theme as well as some choice covers by artists such as the Rolling Stones, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Specials.
Their 16th record, a spinoff from that spooky show, carries over several songs from the set while adding a handful of new tracks to fit the occasion. The result is a work that feels both mannered and effortless, a loosely connected collection of songs Duran Duran knows well enough to deliver with confidence without ever having to try too hard.
Their previous album, 2021's Future Past, arrived about a year before the group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and former guitarist Andy Taylor (who makes an appearance on Danse Macabre) announced he had stage 4 prostate cancer. The LP embraced Duran Duran's legacy by dipping into their musical past with songs that looked ahead by glancing backward.
Danse Macabre goes deeper into that past by pulling vintage songs like "Nightboat" (from their 1981 debut) and "Secret Oktober" (originally the B-side of 1983 single "Union of the Snake"), slapping on some appropriate new textures and placing them alongside covers of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It, Black," Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" and Billie Eilish's "Bury a Friend."
The best songs, though, are the new ones. "Black Moonlight" glides along a slinky nostalgic groove – provided by an instantly recognizable Nile Rodgers guitar riff – laced with "Thriller"-style sound effects, while "Danse Macabre" loads up on eerie synths, and an even more frightening rap by Simon Le Bon, for the album's centerline. The covers are mere side attractions, the threads that pull together the album's moody concept. "Ghost Town" and "Super Lonely Freak" (a reworking of Rick James' classic song) won't replace the originals, not by a long shot, but their place on Danse Macabre serves a purpose on this fun but fleeting LP.
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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff