Music Review: Celebrate the spooky season with a Duran Duran album, 'Danse Macabre'

There aren’t that many Halloween albums out there and so tip your masks to Duran Duran for giving us a treat this spooky season, says Associated Press critic Mark Kennedy

ByMARK KENNEDY AP entertainment writer

October 24, 2023, 10:04 AM

This cover image released by Tape Modern/BMG shows “Danse Macabre” by Duran Duran. (Tape Modern/BMG via AP)

The Associated Press

There aren’t that many Halloween albums out there and so tip your masks to Duran Duran for giving us a treat this spooky season.

“Danse Macabre” is a 13-track — even the number is unsettling — mix of playfully dark original tunes and some seasonably appropriate covers, like Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” and Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend.” It all works better than you expected, a seminal ’80s band luxuriating in the thick synth dance hooks of an over-the-top holiday.

The title track is full blast of classic Duran Duran — a gothic slice of disco with an arch Simon Le Bon singing the band’s signature word soup: “Zombie in the back room, nuns in the bed/Kids in KISS makeup toasting the bread.”

The band’s original lineup — Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, John Taylor and Andy Taylor — gather for a fine “Rio”-era sounding “Nightboat” and the unmistakably funky Nile Rodgers enlivens “Black Moonlight,” the album’s high point.

But there are also some nasty tricks, like the band’s quizzical take on Eilish’s “Bury a Friend.” They’ve gone big when the original was brilliantly small and Le Bon has adopted a slight Eastern European accent, maybe going for a vampiric feel. “Vhaht do you vhant from me? Vhy don’t you run from me?” he sings. It’s a total car crash.

Better is the cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black,” while their “Psycho Killer” — featuring bassist Victoria De Angelis from Måneskin — is a cool, funky take. Duran Duran do a respectful cover of The Specials’ “Ghost Town” but they unwittingly unspookify it with too many horns.

Listeners who get halfway through the band’s original “Super Lonely Freak” will suddenly — and not quite seamlessly — get an extended blast of Rick James’ “Super Freak.” It’s like biting into a Snickers but it transforms into a Starburst — not altogether unwelcome but weird nonetheless.

Duran Duran are better off just sticking with their own music and ditching the covers. Halloween may be all about pretending to be someone else, but the boys in Duran should just be themselves.


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