Duran Duran Return With Star-Studded New Album, ‘Paper Gods’

Dustin Wicksell - Author
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Sep. 13 2015, Updated 9:52 a.m. ET

Synth-pop superstars Duran Duran dropped their most recent album, Paper Gods, on Friday, and the band itself acknowledges that the collaboration-heavy LP transcends its two most recent releases.

Duran Duran wouldn’t have made Paper Gods without 2007’s Red Carpet Massacre and 2010’s All You Need Is Now, which were helmed by Timbaland and a pre-“Uptown Funk” Mark Ronson (respectively), as Time reports. Those discs had their own strengths, but according to keyboardist Nick Rhodes, the new LP goes beyond them, and while that kind of assessment can sometimes be little more than lip service, Duran Duran are anything but flippant in saying it.

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“We’re the first to say the new one’s the best thing we’ve done in a long time, because you have to, but there’s something a little deeper inside that tells you when you’ve made something that has transcended the previous few things. I’d stick my neck out as far to say with this one we have, for a lot of different reasons.”

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Singer Simon Le Bon points to Paper Gods as a record that represents the more experimental side of the band, which is now 37 years into a stunning career.

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“We had to dig and dig until we found something that sounded like the Duran Duran we think of as the experimental, cutting edge band.”

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Duran Duran are joined on this, their 14th album, by a wide tapestry of other artists, which demonstrates how far their influence has spread. Longtime collaborators Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers contributed to the disc, while Janelle Monae, Mr. Hudson, Mew’s Jonas Bjerre, ex–Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, and even Lindsey Lohan appear on individual tracks. As Rolling Stone points out, the record is uniquely strong, particularly from a band that represents the last men standing from amidst their contemporaries.

“If Paper Gods were a debut from some upstart band, the buzz would be insane — yet this is the latest from a group that’s been reinventing itself for more than 30 years.”

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The uniqueness of Duran Duran’s position, releasing strong and vital material so long into their career, isn’t lost on the band’s members. As Time points out, few acts from the early 80s are still operating with their original lineups, let alone producing good music that isn’t gimmicky or pure nostalgia at this point in their lives. According to Rhodes, this is something that the members of Duran Duran don’t take for granted.

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“We often talk as a band, ‘Who are our contemporaries who are doing anything in the same spectrum as we are?’… We actually look at modern artists more than we look at music. People like Ed Ruscha or Richard Prince, people who have had long careers that are still inventing new things for themselves and doing beautiful work.”

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Paper Gods, Duran Duran’s 14th long player, is out now.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

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