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Duran Duran

Hollywood

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Is B-grade Beatles mimicry the last refuge of elderly boy bands? Listening to Duran Duran’s latest, Pop Trash, you’d certainly think so. Fab Four allusions abound, from the faux-Harrison guitar solo on the pretty, faux-Lennon “Someone Else Not Me” to the obsessive repetition of “I’d love to turn you on” on the sitar-laced “Lava Lamp.” Elsewhere, these old New Romantics bathe their tunes in lush (OK, so they’re multitracked) vocal harmonies and string arrangements that even Sir George Martin might blow the whistle on. Too bad, then, that the group hasn’t come up with stronger melodies to go with the disc’s can’t-miss atmospherics. They’ve only had three years. Melody was never Duran Duran’s strong suit, though, so if the elegant psychedelia of “Starting to Remember” qualifies as a genuine surprise, most of the disc’s other tunes are just bloated bores: “Lady Xanax” lumbers along tunelessly; the overwrought “The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever” recalls the Beatles only by way of Elton John; and the martial “Playing With Uranium” has a terminal case of Oasis envy. Once hungry like the wolves, the Duran Duran boys now prefer to gum their prey to death. Which is a shame. Pop trash used to be their specialty; here, they make good on the LP’s title exactly twice: the apocalyptic “Last Day on Earth” and “Mars Meets Venus.” The former gets by on the strength of a slurred, glam-punk guitar riff, but the latter actually recaptures the group’s gloriously vapid heyday. Think “The Wild Boys” with less concept. Now deduct two points for the straight-from-the-personals lyrics. Video killed the radio star for this? —Shannon Zimmerman