Timberlake, Timbaland help Duran Duran score a hit

Allan Lamb

Artist: Duran Duran

Album: Red Carpet Massacre

Label: Epic

Stater Rating: ***1/2

Having Justin Timberlake and Timbaland guest produce part of its new album has not put a damper on Duran Duran’s musical style.

In fact, Timberlake’s production and backing give just the twist of modernity needed to make Red Carpet Massacre worthy of a contemporary audience. The album is far from being a last-ditch effort from a bygone band or fodder for die-hard fans. Whether you remember dancing to “Rio” in your leg-warmers or are someone who appreciates new wave or electronic music, you will find Red Carpet Massacre to be a nice addition to your playlist.

The album starts off slow, but picks up by the third track, “Nite Runner,” which was produced by Timberlake and Timbaland. Both have vocal contributions on the track as well. Timberlake also produced and is featured on the following track, “Falling Down.”

Timbaland’s production and voice are also featured, very evidently, on “Skin Divers” and “Zoom In.” “Skin Divers” is probably the most perfect joint effort between Duran Duran and Timbaland, alternating smoothly between classic Duran and Timbaland’s vocals and mixing on the chorus. This track, more so than the singles announced so far, “Falling Down” and “Nite Runner,” probably has the most potential to sell the album.

Even without the aid of Timberlake and Timbaland, the remaining tracks stand well on their own. “Box Full O’ Honey,” “Tempted” and “Last Man Standing” are the best examples, having the feel of something off of Rio or Notorious while managing to sound just as fresh as the tracks made with their guest producers.

Red Carpet Massacre is also the first release from Duran Duran featuring its new guitarist Dominic Brown. Brown joined the group in 2006 after Andy Taylor’s departure due to creative disagreements as to which direction the band should go.

Although the album is largely synth and beat-driven, Brown takes full advantage of opportunities to make the guitar more than just an accompaniment. The other musicians, namely the band’s staples, Simon LeBon (vocals) and Nick Rhodes (keyboards), also keep their edge.

The “Deluxo Edition” of the album is also available for release with a bonus DVD featuring the making of the album and a 28-page booklet.

Contact all reporter Allan Lamb at [email protected].