Duran Duran launches 'Astronaut

Praise the Killers, the Faint, and VH1's nostalgia-driven programming bent over the last several years: They've made the world safe again for Duran Duran.

Reunited for the first time in more than two decades, the band's five original members could easily have used "Astronaut" as an excuse to rechristen the yacht from 1983's "Rio" video and attempt to sail back into pop's crystal waters on past glories alone. They haven't, and what's more, their new music suggests they didn't need to.

Less a comeback than a come-on, "Astronaut" is a vibrant grin-maker of a record: new wave without datedness, new-school without embarrassment. The title track, for example, on which Simon LeBon sings of blasting off with intergalactic space-ladies, is pure rocket-powered, Capt. Kirk-approved disco glee.

The mood turns more serious and less sweaty on the Brit-pop of "What Happens Tomorrow," but "Sunrise" and "Nice" bring things right back to an aerobic, pre-'90s dance heaven.

With "Taste the Summer," the band asks October record-buyers to savor the cherry-flavored sno-cone sweetness of a would-be July anthem. Reminiscing about three months ago proves as fun as rewinding the mind a full 20 years, and the song, like the album, feels as timeless and ecstatically superficial as Duran Duran itself.

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