DURAN DURAN "All You Need Is Now"
Considering how many bands owe at least part of their career to Duran Duran and their well-crafted combination of new wave, funk and rock, why shouldn't the Durans revisit their own work as well?
On "All You Need Is Now" (Skin Traders), the band teams up with producer Mark Ronson, a self-proclaimed Durannie who calls the new album the stylistic follow-up to the band's smash "Rio." Though it doesn't quite live up to that kind of hype, it's certainly far better than "Red Carpet Massacre," the band's misguided collaboration with Timbaland.
There is a "Hungry Like the Wolf"-era feel to the fantastic "Girl Panic," the catchiest Duran song since "Come Undone" nearly two decades ago. On top of Simon LeBon's still-stylish delivery and John Taylor's distinctive bass groove, they drop Nick Rhodes' synthesizer bursts and a Roger Taylor drum breakdown that sounds like an homage to "Rio."
The smooth disco groove of "Safe," with Scissor Sister Ana Matronic, feels like a cousin to the band's '80s classics, while the ballad "Leave a Light On" could be a new-millennium "Save a Prayer."
The Durans are at their best, though, when they continue to push the envelope, as they do on the delightfully weird synth epic "The Man Who Stole a Leopard." It's a sign that, while Duran Duran is looking back, its best could still be ahead.
CLASS ACTRESS "Journal of Ardency"
Class Actress' debut "Journal of Ardency" (Terrible) is deceptively simple, with pretty little melodies crafted to suit Elizabeth Harper's elegant voice. On "Careful What You Say" and the title track, the electro-pop is streamlined enough to come from 1981, with all the innocence and open spaces of that era. Even when the Brooklyn trio throws in some New Order-sounding bass and ethereal guitar on "Let Me Take You Out," Class Actress makes it sound like they just discovered how to fit these special pieces together.
ALSO IN STORES
Jake Shimabukuro's "Peace Love Ukelele" (Hitchhike/Mailboat)
Ella Fitzgerald's "Twelve Nights in Hollywood" (Verve Select)
The "Faster" soundtrack (Lakeshore)