It is one of the joys of Duran Duran is that the songs that delight you are to be found everywhere. These can be obvious ones (the big hits are big for a reason), or they might change as you appreciate a song at a different time in your life, or they lie there waiting to be found.
For me, Astronaut was never going to be a pleasurable album to buy or listen to. I did not like the idea of the reunion or the seeming pleasure the band took in raking in all those ‘special achievement’ awards they were presented with in 2004 prior to actually releasing new music. Whilst Sunrise kicked things off with a jump, the album quickly tailed off through the dirge of the title-track and the horror of Bedroom Toys. I lost interest.
I put the album to one side and, with horrifying speed, 10 years passed by.
Well, my views of the reunion had not really changed but I found myself with a long drive and thought I’d give it a go again. I found I was better able to appreciate what was there, and was noticeably lifted by the middle tracks of Nice, Taste The Summer and Finest Hour.
Just as I was bracing myself for the trudge of One Of Those Days and Point Of No Return, track 9 started without me really noticing.
Almost instantly I was perked up as the throbbing hypnotic rhythm kicked in. This sounded different and familiar at the same time. Here was a Duran that was absolutely in the pleasure groove yet at the same time carrying a menacing undertone. Musically, there are distinct references back to New Religion and Do You Believe In Shame, which is fitting in the context of the reunion album.
Simon eases into the track and picks up the musical theme with references to ghosts. He reaches down for the first of three tonal interludes which underline and emphasise the dread of the lyric. For my money, the world-weariness of “I just need a li'l more time” is one of his best.
The lyrical mood sits alongside The Promise in its echoes of a cold world – and we have to assume it is not to be read more literally as Le Bon's feelings towards the reunion itself (“come home you're out of time”). The imagery and vocal work together along with the band driving us on through the dark dream.
No doubt some may struggle to negotiate the slightly odd choice of the middle 8 which, rather than move into a musical interlude, the band chose to enter further into the nightmare that the song conjures up – no compromise here. It took me a few more listens to appreciate the imagery conjured up. Andy makes his usual valuable contribution here as part of his return to the fray. The soothing final chorus takes us down to a satisfying ending.
This fan-made video captures the song perfectly.
(The picture illustrating this post is a reference back to the use of Chains in Cherry Lipstick's Christmas story, 'Simon's Christmas Carol')