It’s hard to give a score to Paper Gods. It’s not going to convince anyone new to pick up Duran Duran's records and it doesn’t surpass their previous work. If you’re a fan you might not look at it in the best light and if you’re not then there’s nothing here for you anyway. You probably won’t even be listening to the album or reading this review.
Still, there’s enough here to show that they’ve not quite spunked all their creativity up the wall and it’s not a bad album at all. They’re not a spent force and the second half is worth anyone’s once-over. There’s not, however, enough to suggest that their next record or next show might be worthy of whatever legacy they’ve carved with their past. Collaborators or not, the days of real credibility are behind Duran Duran but they’ll continue to provide a nostalgia hit for those looking for it.
While the guest musicians all add their own flair to the album, the show is run by Le Bon and co., and they don’t slack. Some of the songs are too obvious, as the lyrics to Paper Gods are meant to be a scathing indictment of Hollywood but play too cheesy even for Duran Duran. For the most part, though, they nail it with more hopeful lines, such as a moment on highlight “Sunset Garage”, when Le Bon notes, “Whatever happens, we’re still here.” For a band that’s been committed to their craft for decades, it’s a fitting and reassuring message that they’re still reaching ahead. Many others would take a relaxed, safe approach to their 14th album, but Duran Duran innovate and push further. It may be flawed in parts, but Paper Gods is an ambitious and worthwhile effort that more than justifies its existence.