Duran Duran’s 13th studio album, “All You Need Is Now,” was released digitally in December; its physical release this week is intended to roughly dovetail with the 30th anniversary of the band’s debut. It’s fitting, then, that “Now” is the Duran Duran album that sounds the most like all the other Duran Duran albums — or at least the good ones — without sounding as though it were trying to. “Now” was produced by famed Amy Winehouse collaborator Mark Ronson, who does a whiz-bang job of subtly modernizing the band’s sound without fundamentally altering it.
The disc benefits from the ongoing reign of Lady Gaga, who shares the group’s fondness for the outre, the shiny and the ridiculous. Thanks to her, silicone-infused electro-pop is having a dance-floor moment, and Duran Duran’s shellacked new-wave songs and penchant for glamorous animal metaphors and songs about supermodels once again seem timely.
The band stumbles on the overly Gaga-esque, clattering fire alarm of a title track but rights itself immediately: “Being Followed” echoes “Girls on Film”; “Safe (in the Heat of the Moment),” with a guest vocal from the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic, references ’70s funk icons Chic (this is unsurprising, because pretty much everything Duran Duran does references Chic); and most every song sounds like the potential theme to a James Bond film starring Daniel Craig.
The band sells even the lesser songs with unflagging energy and a straight face, even the fake sad (Duran Duran doesn’t do actual sad) ballad “The Man Who Stole a Leopard.” It’s preposterous on its face — surely the group can afford to buy as many leopards as it would like — but strangely hypnotic, with a guest turn from a lost-sounding Kelis, the only person on the album who doesn’t seem to know exactly why she’s there.
Recommended Tracks: “Being Followed,” “Mediterranea”