Distorted Psycho Killer covers aside, it would appear Duran Duran is ready for another go-around. They are a far cry from Rio and their glory days, but most 1980s bands are. Consistency is key for the band who brought us Hungry Like the Wolf, and a turn toward anxiety-riddled, damp-feeling Danse Macabre is a nice twist. Or it would have been for the plucky synth-heavy band had they moved on from covering tracks which do not suit their style. Realising this is the important part of at least engaging with Danse Macabre. Lob your headphones off as soon as you can though or suffer along for the sheer fascination of hearing Simon Le Bon move the band away from their synthwave hits in a desperate attempt to reangle Duran Duran as serious musicians.
When your biggest hits are about being of equivalent famishing to a wolf and starstruck encounters in new romanticism, opening with a chilling and cold Nightboat is a bold move. It strikes well, instrumentally that is. Danse Macabre struggles with its vocal impressions and will die in the cold shadow of the powerful Depeche Mode return. A little plain in spots but ultimately this Duran Duran return is miles apart from their broader, recognisable image. Props to them for trying to spin themselves as something new, the thumping guitar riffs throughout will hopefully steer this iteration somewhere. For Dans Macabre though, it would appear despite great technical displays, there is nobody at the wheel. They cannot prevent themselves from slipping back into their usual forms – the synthpop and disco-heavy Black Moonlight undoing the mood-setting opener.
Unfortunately for the funk groove of Supernature is a performance from Le Bon and a flickering electronic section which sees Duran Duran try on the Pet Shop Boys outfit. It does not fit them, nor does the tonal shift when paired with Danse Macabre. An all over the place record at the best of times but thoroughly disappointing given the hope and promise featured on those gothic covers. Signs of barbarous intention are found in clusters – it is just heartbreaking to hear Duran Duran wish to hold onto their roots while trying to replant themselves elsewhere. Title track Dansce Macabre is a funk flow with dark and macabre roots. It is not a blur which works all that well.
Gripped by some being of the night or with a curtain draped over him, the man on the album cover of Danse Macabre is a nice visual for how listeners may feel. Sapped of their soul from the collection of songs Duran Duran sees fit to ruin. Covers abound with Ghost Town and Paint it Black feeling more like a chance to cash in on algorithm flows than pay tribute to some of the best around. Super Lonely Freak sampling Can’t Touch This brings a swift and complete end to the implication of gothic nurturing. Not a chance. Duran Duran cannot help but cruise their way back into comfortable territory – in this instance a fatal move. About as Halloween-themed as a bandage with a ghost crudely drawn onto it. Psycho Killer is a fatal construction here – and if the intent is to terrorise, Duran Duran does just this with their cover of a Talking Heads classic.