Released: October 27
News of a new album from Duran Duran arrived earlier this year with a buzz of excitement at the announcement that former guitarists Andy Taylor and Warren Cuccurullo would return to the fold for the first time in decades.
Inspired by a Halloween gig in Las Vegas last October and drawing primarily on cover versions, with the addition of reworked classics and three original numbers, ‘Danse Macabre’ takes the new wave icons down an avenue unexplored in their four-decade history.
It’s the second single, the funk-driven Black Moonlight, that stands out from the set, not only as the strongest of the original material but a highlight on first listen, with the latest instalment of their long-running collaboration with Nile Rodgers also spotlighting Taylor’s invaluable contribution to the group.
A mash-up of their own Lonely In Your Nightmare with Rick James’ Super Freak, with driving bass from John Taylor, is another strong point, along a pulsing rendition of Cerrone’s Supernature and storming take on Siouxsie And The Banshees’ Spellbound, both of which rank among the best covers on the set.
But an overly-theatrical delivery on The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black is synonymous with the album’s shortcomings; rather than channelling the spirit of the season in their own style, vocals often come with a side helping of pantomime villain and the ‘spooky’ reworkings of Nightboat and Secret Oktober 31st do little to veer away from the obvious tropes at play.
Most frightening of all is Le Bon’s rapping on the title song, which is scarily reminiscent of Kenny Everett’s Sid Snot.
From the project’s origins to the end result, it’s clear the guys are having a good time, and when it works – like an unlikely cover of Billie Eilish’s Bury A Friend and superb performance on the penultimate track, Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer – they’re at the top of their game.
It’s far from a bad album and as a unit Duran Duran are in fine form, but with a few too many misses ‘Danse Macabre’ falls victim to the themed album curse and becomes its own worst enemy, with the end result coming in short of the band’s recent releases.