Tuesday 31st August
09:00 (BST): Anniversary is released to the world.
09:04: Online Duran community ‘absolute scenes.’
22:00: 13 hours later the Cherry Lipstick team meet up to consider what, if anything, there is left to say now that the dust has (somewhat) settled. The only condition: any mention of Hungry Like The Wolf will lead to banishment to a Spandau Ballet forum.
Your snap review team: Ruth Galvin, Chris Shortell, Niki and Adam Wilson.
Adam: Niki, as our newest member of the CL review team, please start us off with your thoughts on our new song.
Niki: I like it, though not as much as More Joy, which may not be a popular opinion today. It is complete Duran-by-numbers, which sounds like a negative thing, but that is deliberate, and what makes it so good. John told us about an Easter Egg hunt that fans will enjoy finding. So I’ve spent the whole day hunting for them, and I hear the nod to Nightboat in the intro, John’s bass is obviously Wild Boys and makes me feel 10 years old again, I hear Arcadia in Nick’s synths, and there’s Anyone Out There all over it. I can see why this one has gained the rave reviews, but I’m still jumping for More Joy.
Adam: Now, Chris, how would you describe Anniversary?
Chris: Well obviously The Chauffeur – but not in the way you think. There’s no guitar, I can’t hear it! I can hear Nick in the studio directing “John, John, John! Now Graham – ah that’s enough Graham!” The first time I heard it I rolled my eyes – before the chorus – because it sounded like every other post-reunion track where we hear a bit of John. Classic ‘80s Duran keeps John in the blender. I probably tweeted too quickly, because the chorus sold me. I know hear it as classic Duran – and I’m mad that I like it.
Adam: Why is that?
Chris: Because it is, as Niki said, Duran-by-numbers. It’s served up for us, we are supposed to like it. My favourites from the last few albums are Runway Runaway, Face For Today, Nice and Anniversary. These fit really well together. I don’t find the guitar prominent, but I was getting to the point where Future Past was an album I thought I’d fool around with at the weekend, but wasn’t going to introduce to my parents.
Ruth: In terms of the Easter Eggs, the opening sounded reminiscent of Tiger Tiger and New Moon On Monday, and then straight into the heavy guitar, and the album version of The Reflex. After this high energy intro I came into it with my preconceptions – and prejudices! I heard Girl Panic in the chorus. I do think we are being programmed to like it! It sounds a little bit tired. We have been here before. On stage it looked like they enjoyed playing and I am sure it will be a joy played live. It’s like a Jive Bunny mastermix of Duran Duran!
Chris: It’s Burning The Ground part 2!
Ruth: Yes! This sounds a lot more juvenile than More Joy. I love the ‘do do dos’ in the early stuff – but this? Are we really here again?
Niki: I wish now that John hadn’t said that about Easter Eggs as it led to hunting for clues. I heard the middle 8 and thought ‘ooh that synth line sound familiar’ and then realised it was like the synth in Last Christmas by Wham at which point I knew I had to stop John’s wild good chase. I just wanted to listen to it as a song, without trying to be a good Duranie and find all those hidden clues.
Ruth: It is an anniversary track so it makes sense that there’s a lot of call-back. I read a thread today about another band, Sleaford Mods. A fan was having a pop, saying ‘the old albums are the best’ kind of thing. Yer man said you’ve got two choices: You stay at level one forever and end up playing pubs to 25 people again, or you try and master the art of learning commerciality without offloading your onions. He then added, ‘some bands latch on to fleeting stylistic trend signifiers so they can be mistaken for modern without doing the work of invention.’ He was saying that they had kept true to their core methods and were unconcerned by the noise around the band, because this wasn’t a journeyman version of the band pretending to be unemployed working men when they were now living comfortable lives. Duran Duran can fall into that trap.
Adam: They can do, and that it is why I am very pleased this was not the lead Future Past single. We’ve got a sprawling 5+ minute track that, unlike Invisible, does not deliver as a whole. I LOVE the start – but I did then break it down, not by Easter Egg hunting, but by timings.
Chris: Ah, the Adam Wilson timing of when the chorus kicks in!
Adam: Exactly: It’s 1 minute 30, and that’s too long. One of the verses needs to go, there’s even another synth break after 57 seconds, and the energy and drive of those first 40 seconds drains away. We get the first ‘ah ahs do dos’ at 1 minute 22 which lifts things back and is great, but these then overwhelm the first two choruses. It’s too much too soon. I’d prefer they were a tease to get us ready for a big finish in the final chorus.
Niki: On Lonely... and Rio, the ‘do dos’ don’t come in until near the end. And that works. It gives the song somewhere to go. I recently heard this hysterical podcast by two Americans who ripped Hungry Like The Wolf [gaaah!] to pieces and it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. So when everyone was going on about the ‘do do dos’ being like HLTW today, all I could think of was this podcast. I prefer to compare the ‘do do dos’ to the outro of Lonely In Your Nightmare or Rio, it’s that Rio sound.
Adam: Then there’s a whole heap of INXS Easter Eggs in the final minute – Simon even sings “All you got is this moment*,” at the end of the live show. I started to lose interest before the 3 minute mark. I wanted this track to roar, and the opening gave me huge hope. I don’t mind if there were call backs for the fans – I like Duran Duran and if they want to write a Duran Duran song for me, that’s all good.
*Need You Tonight
Niki: I need to moan a bit here about the lyrics. Now I roll my eyes when people say negative things about Duran, but actually these lyrics are weak. I like weird Duran and this does not deliver. I thought I might have been missing something but then I saw the lyric sheet and I realised I wasn’t. It isn’t Duran-by-numbers to have weak lyrics.
Ruth: It is very Bon Jovi cliché-laden.
Adam: I didn’t like constantly being told to ‘celebrate’ and ‘bring it on’.
Niki: Even before seeing the Verona performance I thought that ‘this is going to be amazing live’. Simon’s pitch was lower and that worked very well. I thought he’d struggle to pull off those notes on the recording.
Adam: I was surprised they called a track ‘Anniversary’ as they’ve played the whole 40th thing down in generally in the past.
Ruth: There is a suggestion this will be called the Anniversary Tour.
Niki: This #DD40 hashtag has been around since 2017. Everyone was predicting something and Nick had teased a Duran tour in 2018 that never happened. I just thought it would be far too cheesy for them to wish themselves a Happy Duraniversary!
Chris: The Reunion tour was pushed on the t-shirts as the 78-03 25th anniversary!
Nikki: I think it should be the More Joy! tour. I love Japanese pop. I was a Pizzicato Five fan and I like K-Pop, and so do my kids. So, to me that vintage sounding synths plus Chai makes it a happy song for me. My kids love it – and when they heard Anniversary they said it sounded like something else they’d done, so they got that this was old Duran.
Chris: I’m sure the opening three tracks on tour will be Anniversary, Invisible and then Hungry Like The Wolf!
Ruth: They might go with the moody dry-ice thing and open with Invisible.
Niki: I have to say that I have been obsessing about Graham, but then seeing them live with Dom made me realise, I love Graham, but I want Dom playing live with Duran. That was a bit of a moment there.
Ruth: Musically, Anniversary is very solid and very listenable. We all like it and will continue to like it. I do, though, hate the vocals, to the point they are almost unlistenable. After hearing that opening I thought Simon would be shrieking in this one. And I was right. You can hear his voice starting to crack – it was so much better live. A counter melody in a lower range would have been fantastic.
Chris: Ruth just ruined my childhood. I like this track in spite of everything. I find Invisible too disposable. That, like More Joy, is a 7. This and Give It All Up are the ones I’ll be playing over and over again. That chorus gets me every time. Invisible was the right first single, but I might just end up loving this.
Ruth: My favourite so far is Give It All Up. It’s got a more resonant verse and it contrasts in the chorus and has a modern structure and sound. Anniversary is the most disappointing one so far. I compare it to Sunrise in the forced-happy sound, but that really works live. I think if they get the right treatment live, this one can fly.
Niki: I think the lyrics might just sound a lot better after hearing it live a few times. Simon apparently had the lyrics printed out on a monitor – and he did keep looking down!
Chris: They were probably still re-writing it ‘til yesterday!
Niki: It took me to hear the Paper Gods tour to appreciate and love (the track) Paper Gods.
Chris: I love Paper Gods and All You Need Is Now. I am sure that influences people’s reactions. I know a lot of people didn’t like Paper Gods, and I think that the 3 or 4 songs released before that album which to me were a mixed bag. I didn’t like What Are The Chances or Last Night In The City. The best songs were on the album, and I wonder what will happen with this one.
Adam: These four tracks are all produced by Erol Alkan and work well together. We will have to see how they fit across the album which may affect their cohesiveness.
Ruth: There’s Moroder, Mike Garson and a Ronson also on Future Past. This album has been out there for years so it could come across like Astronaut.
Niki: I want to hear the Moroder tracks as he is so historically important to the band. I had expected one of them to be released early. I usually end up liking one of the album tracks best.
Chris: They described working with Moroder as making them nervous. He might have been more in charge and not let them do 50 versions of something like they did with Danceaphobia.
Adam: The other album tracks will initially be strange as these four have had so much advance play by us. I wonder how cohesive the album will sound.
Chris: I think about how songs work in the context of an album. Would have enjoyed Palomino more if you’d heard it ahead of Big Thing? [calls of ‘No!’] Could hear Yoghurt and Fake Tan out of context of it being the 8th track would it matter? [deafening silence]
Adam: Where do you rank Anniversary of the four?
Chris: Well, I put it at number one! Then Give It All Up, then probably More Joy. I did record a review with my son Ryan earlier today, and we talked about Butterfly Girl. That was the song on Paper Gods that I thought was the greatest song ever. I now never play it and it is disposable candy. I do worry Anniversary could be like that. That’s my one little hedge.
Adam: I would place this fourth of the new songs. I would score it 6 and a half I suppose. Those ‘do do dos’ in the chorus got on my nerves the first time round and they haven’t got better. I feel the song does not deliver on its incredible opening 40 seconds. Earlier today the gushing delight of ‘this is the greatest thing EVER’ reminded me of the reaction to Invisible. I wonder if we will still love this song in the morning. It seemed as though the immediate reaction came before the whole song had even been heard and had been driven by a reaction to that fabulous opening.
Niki: I can’t rate it, as I look at each song based on a certain aspect – so for John’s part it’s a 9, but from the lyrics it’s a 2.
Ruth: What about from a feelings point of view?
Niki: It has made me happy listening to this, it’s only when I picked it apart that I found negative things. So, I can’t get into rating it or ranking the four. I can only say More Joy is my favourite.
Adam: So, you can’t give Anniversary a score out of 10?
Niki: After hearing that podcast I just can’t hear the ‘do do dos’ without considering how ridiculous they are!
Ruth: I score this a 3 and a half – this is a skip track for me. I’d rank it with Being Followed [Chris: oh!] which has a screeching vocal. I know I’m raving about Superstate [Graham Coxon’s new solo album] and I really love that album. Now, I don’t feel that way about a Duran Duran album, but I also have different feelings about being a Duran Duran fan. I can score Duran songs as 8s or 3s, but it’s through the filter of having all these memories, connections and so much FUN being a fan. I get pulled into conversations with other fans of other groups and it’s all very dry and boring and stuffy. We know other people laugh at Duran, and we then defend them, but then we laugh at ourselves. It is a great group to be a part of. Graham called working with Duran as ‘the most surreal fun he’d had in a long time. And if it was fun, why shouldn’t I do it?’ And I thought that’s kinda my relationship with Duran. So Anniversary has an emotional response, and that impacts on my scoring.
Adam: And that 3 and a half will be in print tomorrow! Chris – any advance on 3 and a half?
Chris: Please let her keep shitting on my childhood! I remember how REM’s last two albums consciously referred back to their first few albums. So that’s what I’m hearing here, and, yes, we’ve heard it all before, but it works and I give Anniversary a 9. Maybe even that will become a 10. I know this ruins any shred of street cred Cherry Lipstick may have left.
Niki [with a dramatic about-turn]: As a song I’d give it a 6 and a half, or a seven, which is me loving John’s bass which overcomes the lyrics and ‘do do dos.’ I’ll probably rate it higher after hearing it live a few times.
Adam: Back in the real world, it is interesting seeing Duran blanking Covid and Brexit by playing indoor shows and country-hopping.
Niki: They were in Verona today and are in Hamburg [Germany] tomorrow! Brexit doesn’t seem to have affected British musicians playing in the EU. I was looking at them, thinking, ‘oh they’re in Italy today, and then flying to Germany and back to the UK. Please don’t catch Covid and have to cancel the Birmingham shows.’
Chris: I remain worried about the Covid song they may write!
Adam: I thought Invisible was the Covid song!
Chris: That was re-conned to Covid in the interviews – they said, ‘well, this applies to the world right now’.
Niki: I am now thinking about what it means to attend the shows. Absolutely nothing up to this point has made me want to get out there, and yet tickets have gone on sale and I’ve rushed into buying one. It’s like being a teenager again – my Mum’s worried about me going and I’m saying “I’ve GOT to go!” But I am worried and have bought a mask with 7609 on it and suppose I need one at the Birmingham show. There was no way I could opt not to be there. It’s GA on the floor so there will be no social distancing. I’ll be there early at the barrier.
Adam: To finish, a quick quiz to with a lifetime’s subscription to Cherry Lipstick as the prize: What number anniversary is oak?
Ruth: 17 – no, is it 40? [That’s ruby]
Chris: When did Andy get fired? 2006? I’ll say 15.
Adam: The prize goes unclaimed! The answer is 80. Which could be because it is double 40, or maybe calls back to 1980 when Simon joined?
Your Team clockwise from top left: Chris, Niki, Adam, Ruth.