RECORDINGS : Quick Spins
RECORDINGS : Quick Spins
RED CARPET MASSACRE
After umpteen semi-breakups and makeups, Duran Duran is (mostly) back. Only longtime guitarist Andy Taylor is MIA for the group's latest disc, "Red Carpet Massacre." (If the album's sci-fi funkiness is any indication, he may have been eaten by robots.) "Massacre" is brittle, dopey and self-involved, which means it sounds like a regular old Duran Duran album, only slightly choppier and with more electronic flourishes.
Producers have taken the band's natural aesthetic -- a terminally louche, 3 a.m.-in-Biarritz vibe that's the sonic equivalent of a Helmut Newton photograph -- affixed it to the disembodied electro-pop of visiting auteur Timbaland and come up with something both weirdly appropriate and impressively of-the-minute, sometimes too much so: "Nite-Runner," featuring a cameo from an almost unrecognizable Justin Timberlake, works hard to bring to mind "SexyBack," except it's even dumber. A lot dumber.
Most of the rest of "Massacre," co-produced by Nate "Danja" Hills (who contributed more to Britney Spears's new album than Britney Spears did), is reminiscent of the group's mid-'80s "Notorious" phase. The album is troubled by neither a complicated thought nor an original idea. Even for a club album it's pretty shallow, except for a great first single, the gentle, Timberlake-assisted "Falling Down." Strummy and organic, close kin to "Ordinary World" and other back-catalogue tracks that approximated actual emotion, it's the best five minutes of faked sincerity you'll hear all year.
-- Allison Stewart
DOWNLOAD THESE:"Falling Down," "Box Full o' Honey"
Is James Murphy the new Olivia Newton-John? Last year, the LCD Soundsystem mastermind got physical, physical, after Nike commissioned him to score the perfect workout. Designed for runners, the dance odyssey "45:33" offered a killer swath of nu-disco while cleverly acknowledging music's functionality in the iPod age.
But did you take it jogging? Land your strides in time with these buoyant cadences and you're either slow-strutting with the mall walkers or barreling down the sidewalk in a near sprint. Murphy later confessed that fitness wasn't his prime motivation -- he was more interested in crafting an uninterrupted chunk of music along the lines of Manuel Gottsching's 1984 masterstroke "E2-E4."
Now, a year later, Murphy has pressed "45:33" onto compact disc -- and it sounds better in the living room than it did on the treadmill. These playful disco romps are a cool contrast from the sharp-focus pulse of "Sound of Silver," the excellent album LCD Soundsystem released earlier this year. On "45:33," pianos boom, guitar riffs putter along, bass lines thump as if they're trying to raise the ghost of disco legend Larry Levan. The energy builds until droning synthesizers take over for an ambient cool-down.
The disc comes with three bonus cuts. "Hippie Priest Bum-Out" and "North American Scum -- Onanistic Dub" each match blippy keyboard lines with flickering percussion, while "Freak Out/Starry Eyes" babbles on for a sweet 12 minutes. Regardless of format, Murphy clearly knows how to take a good beat and run with it.
-- Chris Richards