Tonight at our local public library, while the kids were busy with their errands– my daughter needed books on sea turtles, and my son is obsessed with the Bone graphic novels– I wandered over to the grown-up music and movie section. The idea of being able to rent– I mean, check out– DVDs and CDs for free is kind of mind-boggling, and as someone who can spend hours trawling the Internet Archive for multiple versions of “Little Wing” or comparing the 87 Grateful Dead performances of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” it could be kind of a dangerous thing.

I started with two recent Duran Duran CDs, Astronaut and Red Carpet Massacre, largely on the principle that I would never, ever buy a Duran Duran CD, but recognize that mixed in with the glossy but pointless pop songs is the occasional masterpiece (“Skin Trade” still works as a 4-minute landscape of athletic decadence, and the aching, soaring “Ordinary World” blows me away every time I hear it).

Neither CD is brilliant, but each has its moments. Astronaut’s production is smoother (it sounds to me like an entire CD meant to be played during the opening credits of a James Bond movie– who says the concept album is dead?), and “Reach Up for the Sunrise” and “Point of No Return” are quite good; “Bedroom Toys” is also pleasantly naughty. “Falling Down” on Red Carpet Massacre is pleasantly upbeat.

It’ll be interesting exploring this. Learning about three decent songs on two CDs, for free, is a pretty good deal.