Duran Duran and producer Mark Ronson envisioned the 2011 release All You Need Is Now as a sequel to the band’s 1982 effort Rio, but fans are better off approaching it as the imaginary effort that came after 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Follow their analogy, and this should sound like a band that just created a new wave icon, but here there’s an enthusiasm and sense of purpose that can only come from an act less cocksure than one that is on top. To his credit, Ronson was pretty near the top at the time of the album’s release, but his inspired work on All You Need is driven by both hero worship and a previously underappreciated talent to do what’s right by the artist. For Duran Duran, it’s clean and slick landscapes of synths, plus a dash of trendy gimmicks (representing the band’s love of fame and fashion) with just a touch of weird (representing the band’s love of art rock, particularly Roxy Music). The band is close enough to top form to use Ronson’s work as a springboard, letting the singalong tales of models, paranoia, and men who steal leopards flow naturally. Some tracks sway and glide, like the new romantic hit “Planet Earth” (the great “Too Bad You’re So Beautiful,” or the sci-fi club track “Blame the Machines”), while others bring reminders of the percussive studio creation “Wild Boys” (the pounding title track), or those early, melancholy numbers like “The Chauffer” (the flowing and wistful “Mediterranea”). As far as reservations, the once bold, sometimes shameless Simon Le Bon sounds a bit tentative in this post-Killers world, and when compared to the tight, original, nine-track version of the album previously made available via digital download, this final, fatter version borders on "too much of a good thing." Fortunately, the emphasis will be on "good thing" for longtime Duran fans or anyone with a taste for melodic, synth-driven pop/rock.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries