Paper Gods is a rather ambitious album for veteran pop gods, Duran Duran.
The album art will take you back to the 80s and 90s. You've got the lips from the Rio cover and the ice cream cone from the single "Perfect Day".
The album has a very old school vibe. The album's opening track, which is also the title track would have been perfect if it were about 3 minutes shorter. It suffers from musical filler in the beginning that detracts from an otherwise great song. It is a great mixture of old Duran Duran with their more modern sound.
Some bands grow and evolve over the years, becoming better over the years or growing comfortable with their sound. Both are good. The problem with Duran Duran is that they actually have done both. They try to update their sound, and it usually falls flat, they tend to sound better when they go with what they do best. Its only when they add a little sumpthin' sumpthin that they ruin things. Case in point "Last Night In The City." This song is pure Duran Duran. Simon's in fine voice, and then Kiesza opens her mouth and wrecks the whole thing. Who in the hell is Kiesza anyway? Please make her go away.
Next up is "You Kill Me With Silence." This song really feels like two songs. The verses are dark and brooding, even a little spooky. The chorus is on the lighter side and feels more right.
"Pressure Off" is funky and very retro and more then a little bit cheesy. This song will remind you that these guys came from the 80s. This song will be added to every 40 something female's workout playlist.
They stick with what they know best with "Face For Today." This is the kind of song that will remind you that Duran Duran were once a totally awesome band, and at times they still can be.
"Danceophobia" is the kind of song that makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking about. It is possibly a throwback from Red Carpet Massacre which was possibly the worst album they made in their long career. This is a song you listen to once, when you want to get the feel of the album, after that, you just skip right over it. It might be best to just skip over it the first time. Save your ears the pain.
Just when you think that all is lost, "What Are The Chances" comes up. This is one of the album's token slow songs. Pretty is word that will best describe this song. The lyrics are almost thoughtful, or as thoughtful as anything Simon Le Bon writes can be.
"Sunset Garage" reminds us that Simon doesn't write thoughtful lyrics all that often. This song makes no sense, but it is one that you'll like anyway. Duran Duran aren't noted for their thought provoking lyrics, after all.
Another song with a real retro vibe is "Change The Skyline." Most of the time when Duran Duran goes retro, that means they sound like Duran Duran circa 1984. This time, its the 80s but not the New Romantic sound that they are known for.
"Butterfly Girl" has a fantastic guitar solo, one that probably hasn't been heard since Andy Taylor was in the band the first time.
One of the best songs is saved for the end of the album. "Only In Dreams" is a funky, sexy song, the kind that we haven't heard from the guys this album. It has a line that can only be described as classic Duran Duran "There's a vampire in the limousine." That's a line you can only expect to hear from Duran Duran.
The album ends with "The Universe Alone." Were Duran Duran trying to write a song for Doctor Who? It sure sounds like it. The backing vocals sound like the Ood singing the Doctor to a new regeneration.
The deluxe edition has three bonus tracks, "Planet Roaring," "Valentine Stones," and "Northern Lights." Usually Duran Duran delivers great bonus tracks. Of the three, the dreamy "Northern Lights" is the only one worth noting.
This is one of those albums that is middle of the road, but with Duran Duran, you learn to take the good with the bad, and as usual, you get both here.
Rating: 3 Stars