Tag Archives: Face for Today

Paper Gods, Caveman Edition

Editorial note: C.K. didn’t title this blog and submitted it, probably assuming I’d come up with some catchy title for it. Well, he made the mistake of characterizing his own descriptions of Duran Duran’s music as being “caveman level”. So did what must be done and ran with it. You’re welcome, C.K!!!  – R

 

I had a two-hour drive recently to visit friends in Boston, and it was the perfect opportunity to play Paper Gods! On drive up, I played it in its official running order, because it’s been a while since I’ve heard it that way. Then, I began to skip around, looking for specific songs. It’s about that time in Paper Gods’ five week existence that we start looking for certain songs, right? What I found interesting, though, is that most of the songs I’m gravitating toward now were not ones I liked much a few weeks ago. Specifically:

  1. Face for Today: Some songs grab you strictly with the music, while others may hook you with the lyrics. This one really merges the two for me. I love the idea of Duran giving advice to this generation of pop stars. And yet it also feels like it can apply to our lives too. The “hold on to your time” message is a nice continuation of the similarly themed “All You Need is Now”.   It’s also reminiscent of R.E.M.’s “All the Best,” from what would be their final album, 2011’s Collapse into Now. In each case, the band is clearly speaking from a place of accomplishment and looking back, fondly, to those who are following in their steps.   I loved this song upon first listen, and continue to love it today.
  1. Change the Skyline: Admittedly, I didn’t like this song at first, but it has grown on me. Lyrically, it talks about “moving on” and while that doesn’t necessarily resonate (I don’t want the band to “move on” and I certainly am focused on the “now” in my own life!), I do relate to the notion that you can change the skyline: with your actions, words, accomplishments, with your life…so for me, when I do get to the point where I am passing the torch to someone, I want to feel this way—that I have made a difference. Musically, I really love the percussion, even though it has that club sound (disclaimer: As you all know from my past guest blogs, I am not a musician, so my descriptions of Duran’s music are going to be at the caveman level. No “syncopated bass” references from me!). I also like the rhythm guitar and the keyboard line. And Jonas Bjerre is great, in my opinion. I am sure this puts me in the minority of the fans out there, as this song seems to take a beating on some message boards, and that is fine…I’m used to it (says the guy with the Medazzaland poster in the background).
  1. Sunset Garage: If you asked me in mid-September what my least favorite song was on Paper Gods, I would have easily pointed to “Sunset Garage.” It sounded too different for me, too 60’s/70’s faux Beach Boys-ish.   It also seemed like the descendant of “Taste the Summer” and “Meet El Presidente,” two songs from the catalogue that don’t rank as my favorites. And yet…it grew on me. It’s so damn upbeat and catchy. You can just picture yourself driving on a coastal highway into the sunset with the top down. “Whatever happens, we’re okay…hey we’re still alive!” is one of my favorite lines on this album.   This song has the trademark Duran optimism that drew us to this band in the first place.
  1. Only in Dreams: This one was a fan favorite from day one. It took a little time for me to get into it, but I certainly love it now. I love the orchestral beginning that gives way to the funk about a minute in (very similar to “The Universe Alone”).   Again, lyrically, it’s about celebrating the now (“don’t want to wake up”), but is a little more playful than some of the other similarly themed songs. The Nile Rodgers influence is all over this one. And, yes, the (wait for it…) syncopated bass is also a cool effect. (Well done, my friend. – R) 
  1. Valentine Stones: My favorite of the bonus tracks. When the band talks about this album being heavily influenced by both Notorious and the first album, I think of this song. It’s got the funky rhythm guitar and a haunting, early era Duran chorus that sounds straight out of 1981. Lyrically, the song seems to be about someone getting over a relationship and being leery of a suitor’s promises (as if the protagonist in “You Kill Me With Silence” finally was able to “let go” and move on, but was leery of the “rebound” relationship that awaited him…or her. Yes, I really overanalyze these lyrics!).   I think all of the bonus tracks are amazing, but this one really stands out to me.

You realize that I could have written 13 more paragraphs, right? I love every song on this album. Even Danceophobia. But these are the ones I found myself gravitating toward on my recent trip. I think it speaks to the depth of this new music that these songs were not among my favorites a month ago. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Whatever happens, we’re okay, though…hey we’re still alive! With new Duran Duran music!

-C.K.

Steppin’ Out with Paper Gods

In preparation for tomorrow’s release of Paper Gods, we decided to offer our own quick “shot” in summation for each song.  Rest assured that at some point not far in the future, we will write full Daily Duranie song reviews with cocktail ratings to match, but until then, enjoy our Daily Duranie “Happy Hour”, and have some shots on us!

Paper Gods

Rhonda:

I tried to prepare myself for what Paper Gods could possibly sound like, and even then – I couldn’t have been farther off. I’m still stumbling over myself to try to fully absorb this song, but one thing is sure: these lyrics have the depth and emotion I’ve been craving. 

Amanda:

This song is one of three songs that we did a video review for when it first was made available.  My thoughts about it haven’t really changed.  I appreciate that this song is like the anti-single, the anti-radio focused track as it doesn’t follow much when it comes to standard radio friendly tracks.  It is long, has frequent changes and just seems unpredictable.  I like all that and I like that they just embraced the art, for art sake on this one, and added a social commentary on top of that.

Last Night in the City

Rhonda:

If there were ever a party song…or a to fully describe a road trip with Amanda & Rhonda…this is it. I know plenty of people have a love/hate relationship with EDM, and I’ve got to be honest…I just don’t care. It took me more than one listen to get into this song, but once I finally stopped trying to cram Duran Duran into the “box” that held them in the 80’s,  I couldn’t stop myself from wiggling in my chair or bobbing my head as I listened. That’s all that matters.

Amanda:

I’ll be completely honest with this song.  When I first heard it, I told Rhonda that it reminded me of a bad, meat market type club that I would never want to go to.  It didn’t sound or feel like Duran, initially, to me.  It is very electronic and I missed the feel of organic instrumentation.  Then, at the same time, Rhonda and I realized that the lyrics describe what it is like for us when we are on tour.  It is that complete focus on having fun and connecting.  The female vocals just makes me connect to the song even more.  Now, I still think the song is very different from what I think of when I think Duran but it is super fun and has become a favorite on the album.

You Kill Me With Silence

Rhonda:

So, we did already do a video review of this song, which were our first impressions. I had difficulty with the chorus/verse changes and felt it really watered down the song. That said, I must admit this one is slowly growing on me. On one hand, it’s like Simon LeBon lives in my head and I thank him for putting my feelings into words. On the other hand, this song has just enough darkness for me to make it interesting. Who doesn’t love that Nick Rhodes solo at the end? Come on now!

Amanda:

Again, this is one of the songs that we reviewed earlier in video format.  Like Paper Gods, my feelings about it haven’t changed that much.  One change is that I might not be as critical of the chorus now that I have gotten more used to it.  That said, I’m still struggle a little. Perhaps, the subject matter is partly to blame for that.  I have a hard time really loving a song with the focus of emotional abuse in relationships. 

Pressure Off

Rhonda:

I’m always amazed by the responses out there in the fan community. To me, this is the easiest song on the album to fall in love with, and I still say this has the strongest hook I’ve heard in a Duran Duran song since the 80’s. To others, “this is like listening to Simon sing High School Musical.”   If the band wanted me to dance, this was the way to do it! The one thing that has changed for me since I first heard is that it sounds nothing like the rest of the album, and as a result it is (still) a standout! 

Amanda:

In many ways, now that I have heard the album as a whole, this song doesn’t match the feel of much of the rest.  That said, it is still a favorite.  To me, the instrumentation feels very Duran and the lyrics are just fun.  I know that some have criticized all of the “oh”s in the chorus but that even feels Duran-like (Hungry Like the Wolf, anyone??).  This is one that I’m very much looking forward to hearing live!

Face For Today

Rhonda:

Maybe I lied about Pressure Off being the easiest song to love on this album… The truth is, I really like this song too. It’s very “Duran Duran”, complete with the stacked harmonies and soaring chorus…I just wish (and this goes for the entire album) that they’d create more of a balance with their instrumentation. There, I said it. Done.

Amanda:

I enjoyed this one as soon as I heard it as it is easy to like. Right away, I found the lyrics swimming around in my head as I tried to figure out what the heck it is about. Quickly, I began to feel that this was the band giving advice and well wishes to those young and super popular bands now. This added some depth to the song.

Danceophobia

Rhonda:

The tune is slightly catchy while the lyrics are very elementary. The addition of Lindsay Lohan does absolutely nothing to add to the song particularly when it’s clear she is having difficulty not laughing while “singing” the last portion of the song after her dreadful spoken part.  On the upside, it does add something to the album that magazine editors and trash TV “celeb” news shows LOVE to dish on. Cringe-worthy at best.

Amanda:

It seems to me with many of these tracks I had strong reactions as soon as I heard them.  For some, it was an instant like and others I had to hope that the song would grow on me.  It did for Last Night in the City but…I am not as successful with this one.  I start to get passed the silly lyrics and non-Duran music then Lohan comes in.  I just don’t think her part works.  Is she supposed to be taken seriously?  Is it supposed to be funny?  Sexy?  I just don’t get it.

What Are the Chances

Rhonda:

I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard it. As I said on Twitter, there’s only ONE thing wrong with this song, and it’s that Dom Brown isn’t playing the lead guitar part. I don’t know if I’ll ever quite forgive them. That said, I’m pretty sure I’ll forget all about this small oversight should they play this live with Dom playing the part that should have been his to begin with.  PS – These lyrics? Really??? Beautifully done.

Amanda:

This isn’t my usual song to gravitate towards.  I am much more of an up tempo, rocking out sort of person.  I have gotten bored over many of the more ballad type songs in Duran’s catalog over the years.  Yet, this isn’t really that.  It does have a “bigger than normal” sort of feel like an Ordinary World has with some really great lines in the lyrics that will keep me interested for years to come.

Sunset Garage

Rhonda:

When someone is able to tell me what a Sunset Garage is, I will be much better able to talk about this song. Until then, I’m still struck by how “not” Duran Duran this song really is…and how much I enjoy it, even though I still see the Brady Bunch “Silver Platter” episode in my head as it plays. Definitely a tune for a summer night taking a drive along the coast. Gonna keep on, keep on…. (if you don’t get the reference, click here)

Amanda:

This is a song that simply had not hit me.  It isn’t one that has created strong emotion in me, either super positive or super negative.  The song has left me more puzzled than anything else.  I don’t understand the message.  I will be interested to see if this one grows on me after time.

Change the Skyline

Rhonda:

From the first sounds of the synth intro, I think it’s pretty clear this isn’t your average Duran Duran tune. I can’t help but think about how this song might have sounded with Brandon Flowers…but Jonas Bjerre does a good job. This is a song that I’m still trying to hash out and find a comfy spot, but there’s a lot going on here to like. 

Amanda:

This is the one track that got lost when listening to the album.  I’m not sure why with that chorus.  At first, I wasn’t sure about having Jonas Bjerre on this track.  Yet, his vocals and the song is starting to grow on me.  I’m starting to pay more and more attention to it, which is leading to greater appreciation.  It is one that I’m anxious to take the time to really read and digest the lyrics. 

Butterfly Girl

Rhonda:

The best part of this song for me is that Anna Ross is featured, and I love her. She brings an energy that this song was crying for, and I can hardly wait to hear them play this song live. Oh yes, the guitar. It’s good even if it’s not Dom (but he is going to blow the audience away with this live)…and there’s only one kind of happy in a glass of wine. (we all learn something from Duran Duran, don’t we?)

Amanda:

This is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Like Last Night in the City, I love the additional female vocal (Go Anna!) and I usually don’t go for female vocals.  Musically, the song grabs me but more than that is the picture of this girl that is created.  She seems so specific and, yet, so universal.  I think many people can relate.  Goodness knows that I certainly do.  What more can you ask for?

Only In Dreams

Rhonda:

This song starts off reminding me of Before the Rain, and then very quickly turns into this gorgeous dream-like scene. Definitely a favorite of mine on the album. Simon sings like it’s a lullaby (and I really want to know who is on backup vocals…), and I love the calm that comes over me until the funk hits after the intro. Then I’m completely in it for the long haul. Vampires, limousines, reminds me of some elements of fandom…and no, I don’t want to wake up. 

Amanda:

Like the previous song, this is another favorite.  I love the opening which reminds me of Before the Rain.  Of course, it quickly changes to something else completely different.  Then, there are more changes as the song moves further along.  I love all of the changes.  Even more importantly than that, I love the lyrics.  There are so many great lines in this one and as a whole it really feels like Simon is describing fandom.  With good times in fandom, it is like being in a dream that you don’t want to wake up from!

The Universe Alone

Rhonda:

Here’s the thing: this song is pure Duran Duran genius from start to finish. It is also the darkest and deepest song on the album. I listen and get this scary sense of foreboding that makes the hair on my neck stand up and my emotions run way high every time I listen. I’d forgotten that Duran Duran can write like this – appealing to the modern sound they strive for,  with some of the deepest writing (both music and lyrics) I’ve heard them do in decades. Well done, Duran Duran, you’ve managed to make me extremely uncomfortable (as all art should!) AND love the song at the same time. Thumbs way, way, up.  

Amanda:

The first and only word that comes to mind when I hear this song is haunting.  It feels like goodbye.  I don’t know if it is the end of the world type goodbye or individuals leaving a huge chapter in their lives but it definitely feels like closure of some sort.  The first line really sets the tone about how there can be beauty within dying.  That said, it isn’t an easy song to want to listen to because it creates so many uncomfortable feelings in me.  Despite that, I adore the ending with the distortion followed by the beautiful chorus.

 

We can’t wait to read your own thoughts as you listen to the album yourselves. It took both of us some time to adjust to the new sounds and feelings, and as you can see – we’re still adjusting, but we welcome the challenge. We also congratulate the band and look forward to seeing them LIVE in the coming weeks!!

-A&R