|duran2.net : reviews|
by Louisa Eastman, Firedancer Editor
I will be honest, I can not believe what kind of album Medazzaland has turned out to be. I am not quite sure what I expected, because trance-punk is such a non-defined term. However, this album has surpassed all realms of current Duran knowledge for what the band will do and the direction the band may continue. I suppose after being in the music business for almost 20 years it is difficult to stay cutting edge, and up to date with the latest styles and techniques. Duran has not only accomplished this difficult task but taken their music to new and innovative heights.
With bands like the Chemical Brothers and Prodigy in the new wave of techno-house music, Duran has continued the current trend, with the likes of Depeche Mode and U2, with a heavy "electronica" based album. The absence of creative input from bassist John Taylor is definitely noticeable on many of the tracks but it is the overall feel of the album that struck me. The keyboards are wonderful and Nick has never shown more than on this album. He has done a tremendous job with putting music and ideas together to make for smooth transitions in and out of the songs. Warren has also done a tremendous job of not just going for the big guitar solos that so many lead guitarists are so fond of; he has really tried to work with Nick to keep the music fluid and moving. This combined with the current team of mixers (including Anthony Resta who we interviewed in our July issue) the band has come out with an album that is almost indescribable in experimentation.
On a very disappointing note, I must give them negative points for what they have done with lead singer Simon LeBon's voice and lyrical abilities. He is one of the finest poets in music business and I don't think they ever really give Simon the chance he deserves to shine the way he can. I think that a lot of good music is poetry married to the music. However, this is missing from much of the new songs and as a fan I would like to see these things reunited in a clear and distinctive style that we all have come to know and love as Duran. Often times on Medazzaland, I found Simon's voice to be muddied and hard to understand, which will probably improve a little in a cd format but I still can't envision it being much different.
Overall I am still not sure how I feel about Medazzaland, but I can say it is innovative and different. Some songs to listen especially for are Electric Barbarella, Michael, and Buried In The Sand. Most of the songs sound very similar so it is very hard to distinguish between which ones to look for and which ones to stay away from. I do have to say that they need to go back to a solid rhythm section to keep that Duran feel.
Experimentation is great on a few songs but not necessarily on a whole album. Also, as a bass fan, I really think that the band does not give enough respect to what a good bassist can do, often times the lines are choppy and layered into the other music too much. Once they get a bassist worthy of filling Taylor's position, we will again see the return of Duran style pop music. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give it a 7 or more. Definitely pick it up and listen to it for yourself.