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Cover of FUTURE PAST //courtesy duranduran.com

Album review: Duran Duran’s FUTURE PAST

By Jackson L. Mullin, October 29 2021—

Duran Duran — the band your parents probably like and a somewhat-forgotten group in the modern world of music, yet an unmistakable hallmark of the prevalent new wave sound of the 1980s  — has once again blessed avid listeners, such as myself, with a new album. 

FUTURE PAST was somewhat unexpected. I had only learned about its upcoming release via Spotify notifying me of their earlier EP of four songs, titled TONIGHT UNITED. Immediately, I listened to these four tunes — “TONIGHT UNITED,” “ANNIVERSARY,” “INVISIBLE” and “MORE JOY (feat. CHAI)” — and was stricken by the quality and nostalgic nature of them. But, I still had to wait some weeks for the full album to be released.

On Oct. 22, I awoke early to get listening and I found myself surprised as to how each song was better than the last. In this new album, Duran Duran managed to amalgamate aspects of modern EDM, Hip-Hop and classic new-wave, whilst maintaining their famous rhythmic style, tying it all together with Simon De Bon’s irreplaceable voice.

I feel as if further influence was also taken from other 1980s artists, such as Depeche Mode — most notably in tracks such as “INVISIBLE,” “BEAUTIFUL LIES,” “NOTHING LESS” and the title track, “FUTURE PASSED” — as well as influences taken from Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

In a world where new-wave and its derivatives have made a major comeback through artists such as Big Black Delta, Perturbator, Mitch Murder and Carpenter Brut, Duran Duran has — through this album — once again solidified themselves as old masters of the genre. Although not being as electronically based as modern synth-wave style artists, they have offered a good example of what can be done with both electronic production and instrumentals, which has been lacking in the more modern derivatives of new wave.

Unfortunately, one area where I feel this album fails is in the realm of an overarching theme. Although each track individually offers a great listening experience, sometimes listening to the album front to back offers a meandering choice of style. For example, the transition from “TONIGHT UNITED” to “WING” goes from what might be considered a more modern piece, straight to a track that makes you wonder how it wasn’t actually recorded in the mid 1980s. But, with this superficial and small complaint aside, I can offer no other meaningful critique of this album.Overall, the surprise of this album was a wholeheartedly welcomed one.

FUTURE PAST offers the listener a taste of the past while maintaining modern competence (just as the name describes). Previous recent albums by Duran Duran, such as Paper Gods, pale in comparison to this magnum opus of modern new-wave. If you have ever even had a passing interest in this genre of music, I strongly recommend you listen to it, as nothing beats these experienced masters of the art, effortlessly displaying their capability. I give this album 9.8/10.

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