Review: Duran Duran Deliver Tales from the Darker Side on ‘Danse Macabre’

Duran Duran
Danse Macabre
4 out of 5 stars

Something happened during Duran Duran‘s concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 31, 2022. Lured back to playing some old favorites during the Halloween-themed night, the band began dipping into older songs in their catalog, along with some spooked-up covers, which they ended up revisiting on their 16th album.

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Danse Macabre is not a trick. It’s a treat for the senses. Filled with a handful of songs that influenced some band members in their earlier punk days, Danse Macabre offers a bewitching rendition of the Banshees’ 1981 song “Spellbound,” which remains mostly faithful to its original.

Duran Duran’d up covers Talking Heads, and more,’ “Psycho Killer,” featuring Måneskin‘s Victoria De Angelis, and The Specials’ “Ghost Town,” and a more synth-ed up version of Cerrone’s 1977 disco hit “Supernature,” bring more fun to the dance party.

Adding a polished mash-up of Duran’s Rio track “Lonely in Your Nightmare” and Rick James‘ 1981 hit “Super Freak,” Danse Macabre is still a different spin—and one tied more to their past playlists—from the band’s previous album of covers Thank You from 1995

Meaning a dance of death in medieval times, Duran’s Danse Macabre is a fête full of old souls. Dancing around songs from their past—many of which were mostly left there for a good portion of their career—the band returned to Seven and the Ragged Tiger track “Shadows On Your Side” at their 2022 show, then rerecorded another track from that era, their 1983 B-side “Secret Oktober” retitled as “Secret Oktober 31st.”

More past spirits align on the album, a reunion of sorts, featuring longtime Duran Duran collaborator Nile Rodgers, along with founding guitarist Andy Taylor and former touring guitarist Warren Cuccurullo.

Starting at their beginning, Danse Macabre opens on a redo from the band’s debut Duran Duran with “The Night Boat.” Newly titled, “Nightboat” reveals a Gothier side, early on: Rising for a breath of breeding and drowns / Stillness overcomes me in the night / Listen to the rising water moan.

Within this era, they could have easily put a sinister spin on “Sound of Thunder” or “Friends of Mine,” the latter of which the band has already performed live on recent tours set to a backdrop screen flashing classic horror and sci-fi films.

[RELATED: Duran Duran Revisit Songs, and Spirits, Past and Present on ‘Danse Macabre’]

There’s no right way to cover the Rolling Stones‘ 1966 classic “Paint It Black,” though Simon Le Bon shifts as far from the original vocals to make it their own, while those loyal to the Billie Eilish original may or may not be aghast at the lightly sped-up “Bury a Friend.”

Newer offerings “Love Voudou” and “Black Moonlight” make Danse Macabre less of a spectacle of revamped tracks and covers and more of a Duran Duran album, ending on its hypnotic close “Confession in the Afterlife.”

Initially inspired by Alhallow’s Eve, perhaps Danse Macabre is a slightly different tincture for the band. Whatever its brew, at its core, Danse Macabre is Duran Duran, 40-plus years later, sounding their best.

Photo: Stephanie Pistel / Courtesy of High Rise PR

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