Duran Duran: Danse Macabre album review

Duran Duran, the iconic British band that has graced our musical landscape for over four decades, has embarked on a thrilling adventure that began as a couple of nights of freaky fun and frivolity in Las Vegas on Halloween in 2022. The culmination of this journey is their 16th studio album, “Danse Macabre.” The band’s perennial collaborator, Joshua Blair, takes the reins as producer, with the legendary Bob Clearmountain masterfully mixing the sonic tapestry of this album.

Releasing a record that comprises over half of its content as cover versions is a daring endeavor. It’s a path that Duran Duran has trodden cautiously, perhaps having learned a lesson from their experiences with the overtly mocked 1995 album, “Thank You,” which consisted exclusively of songs that were not their own. Now, 28 years later, on this latest project, they’ve found a delicate balance by interspersing re-arranged Duran Duran cult classics with three brand new songs, creating a musical journey that’s a blend of nostalgia and innovation.

A Nod to the Past: Reimagined Duran Cult Classics

The inclusion of re-arranged Duran cult classics like “Nightboat,” “Secret Oktober,” “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” and “Love Voudou” serves as a heartfelt nod to their own legacy. These tracks have been reimagined to offer a fresh perspective, breathing new life into beloved classics. It’s a way for Duran Duran to connect with their loyal fan base while introducing these timeless gems to a new generation of music enthusiasts.

The Art of Covering: Navigating the Challenges

It’s no easy task to reinterpret classic songs originally performed by iconic artists. However, Duran Duran has undertaken this challenge with finesse, selecting covers that resonate with their own musical journey. While some tracks like “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones and “Ghost Town” by The Specials may have left some fans disappointed, the overall quality of the interpretations shines through. The band openly acknowledges that artists like Siouxsie & the Banshees and Talking Heads have been at the heart of their inspiration, influence, and sonic essence.

Nick Rhodes expressed his admiration for Talking Heads, dubbing them “the greatest American band of their time.” This influence becomes evident in the album, especially in the rhythmic interplay between the tandem bass of John Taylor and Måneskin’s Victoria De Angelis on tracks like “Psycho Killer.” The addition of De Angelis in a “bass-off” with John Taylor adds a fresh and exciting dynamic to the music, showcasing the band’s ability to blend their own style with their sources of inspiration.

Danse Macabre tracklisting


Black Moonlight

Love Voudou

Bury A Friend


Danse Macabre

Secret Oktober 31st

Ghost Town

Paint It Black

Super Lonely Freak


Psycho Killer (feat. Victoria De Angelis)

Confession in the Afterlife

Embracing the Contemporary: Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend”

One notable inclusion in the album is Billie Eilish’s “Bury a Friend.” While it may seem like an unexpected choice, it reflects Duran Duran’s commitment to staying relevant and acknowledging contemporary artists. It’s a nod to the ever-evolving music landscape and a testament to the band’s versatility in embracing new sounds and influences.

The Uncharted Territory: “Black Moonlight” and the Title Track

“Black Moonlight” is a track that features Nile Rodgers and the return of original Duran guitarist Andy Taylor. On the surface, it may appear a little flimsy, struggling to blend shadowy melodies with an upbeat tempo. However, it gradually works its way under your skin with its fine hooks, even if it’s considered the weaker of the new material. The title track, “Danse Macabre,” is a testament to Duran Duran’s chemistry with writer/producer Mr. Hudson, rekindling the magic they discovered on “Paper Gods” in 2015. It’s a compelling composition that resonates with fans, marking a significant highlight on the album.

The Fan Favorite: “Secret Oktober 31st”

“Secret Oktober 31st” is perhaps the most celebrated track on the album, especially among dedicated Duran Duran fans. This re-imagined version of the 1983 classic holds a special place in the hearts of the faithful. What sets this version apart is the inclusion of lead guitar by Andy Taylor, a detail missing from the original recording. The backstory of the original’s creation, recorded in a rush during the witching hours of a 1983 night by only Rhodes and Le Bon under pressure to find a B-side for “Union of the Snake,” adds an intriguing layer of history to the track. Additionally, the haunting harmonies between Simon Le Bon and Irish backing singer Rachael O’Connor, a Derry Girl who has been touring with the band during their FUTURE PAST tour, elevate the song to a new level.

Musical Fusion: “Super Lonely Freak” and “Love Voudou”

“Super Lonely Freak” is a fusion of the beloved Duran track “Lonely in Your Nightmare” from 1982’s “Rio” and “Super Freak” by Rick James. It’s an unexpected combination that Duran Duran somehow pulls off with finesse, showcasing their ability to blend diverse musical elements. “Love Voudou,” from Duran Duran’s 1993 self-titled LP, welcomes the return of guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, who also graces the title track “Danse Macabre.” These tracks pay homage to the band’s history while infusing a sense of nostalgia into the album.

A Mesmerizing Conclusion: “Confession in the Afterlife”

An excellent album of three parts, covers, original songs and reimagined classics” says music critic Mark Boardman.

The album’s ethereal closer, “Confession in the Afterlife,” is a testament to Duran Duran’s ability to meld the best sounds of 2023 with their mid-1980s period. It harks back to classics like “Winter Marches On” from 1986’s “Notorious” and their So Red the Rose Arcadia project. The inclusion of touring guitarist Dom Brown, who has been with the band since 2006, adds a contemporary touch. “Confession in the Afterlife” serves as a compelling testament that even after 42 years, Duran Duran can create something magical and utterly captivating.

In conclusion, “Danse Macabre” is a musical journey that pays homage to the band’s own legacy, reinvents classic tracks, and embraces contemporary influences. Duran Duran’s ability to navigate the challenges of covering iconic songs and incorporating diverse elements into their music showcases their enduring creativity. This album is not just a testament to their past but also a glimpse into their ever-evolving musical future. It’s an exploration of sonic landscapes, a celebration of their history, and a nod to the artists who have shaped their musical identity. “Danse Macabre” is a compelling addition to Duran Duran’s extensive discography, a testament to their longevity, and a treat for fans old and new

Rating 8/10

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Michael P
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