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Duran Duran - Danse Macabre (Album Review)

Tuesday, 31 October 2023 Written by Jacob Brookman

Duran Duran are back with their sixteenth album and, given the season, it’s an appropriately ghoulish affair. Blending original tunes with classic covers and spooked-up versions of their own songs, ‘Danse Macabre’ has its roots in a Halloween show the band played in Las Vegas, and demonstrates the fun and silliness that they have made one of their defining characteristics over the past 45 years.

Some of the more memorable moments are the original tracks. Black Moonlight is classic New Romantic fare: funky guitars (courtesy of a guest spot from Nile Rodgers) and chunky rhythms adorn a cheesy lyrical hook that is, thankfully, also pretty catchy. The additional element here is the musical saw that floats over the track in a ghostly, if cartoonish, counterpoint. 

It’s very camp and very fun and it certainly matches singer Simon Le Bon’s description of the album as sounding like a “crazy Halloween Party”.

Another original number is the title track, which arrives somewhere between the stomping chant of the band’s global hit Wild Boys and the demonic Stoke-on-Trent rap of Rudebox by Robbie Williams. It’s absolutely awful.

But, even so, the album remains fun. Covers are always a good way of understanding a pop band’s signature sound, and in their versions of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer (starring Victoria De Angelis of Måneskin) and The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black, we get a sharpened understanding of how Duran Duran make arrangement choices, albeit with a creepy twist. That sound is funky, theatrical and, in its own way, highly innovative.

‘Danse Macabre’ is pitched pretty well. There are loads of Christmas albums out there, but beyond Rocky Horror or Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ (which isn’t actually a Halloween album), it’s hard to think of too many records directly programmed for the season. The fact that it’s not actually that good might not matter — this is a band who are still finding new ways to entertain us.


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