Duran Duran were a burst of colour amid the cavalcade of negative headlines in the early 80s. The unemployment soaring and inner city riots, their care-free songwriting provided an outlet for escapism, and playful adventure. ‘Future Past’ – their first album in six years – follows in this tradition, reflecting some of the intensity of its surroundings while also offering some of the band’s most direct, and downright catchy songwriting in decades.
Perhaps it helps that ‘Future Past’ is such an outward-looking, communal experience. The production is beefed out by Mark Ronson and Erol Alkan, while hugely experienced disco icon Giorgio Moroder was also brought on board. The guests, too, present a remarkably varied palette – Blur’s Graham Coxon assists on guitar, while vocalists range from pop queen Tove Lo to incendiary rapper Ivorian Doll via Japanese garage-pop outfit CHAI.
The highs are effervescent. The funky opening spell that dominates ‘All Of You’ segues into the delirious disco that drives The Tove Lo enhanced ‘Give It All Up’. ‘Beautiful Lies’ is an unashamed piece of retro dancefloor flair, and CHAI amplify the ecstatic exuberance of ‘MORE JOY!’ to overwhelming levels.
Yet it’s not all incandescent pop bullseye moments. In truth, ‘Tonight United’ is quite cheesy, and the Bond theme ambiance of ‘Wing’ plods along without ever really raising the pulse – granted, it does shows off Simon le Bon’s still impressive chops.
The band’s first album since ‘Paper Gods’ in 2015, ‘Future Past’ is the work of a group resurgent. While many of their peers have opted for merch-stalling fillers as they grind out another Greatest Hits tour, Duran Duran have opted to challenge themselves. Frothy, neon-soaked entertainment, ‘Future Past’ – when it works – is a blast of ridiculous 80s themed fun.
Words: Robin Murray
- - -
- - -