BLONDIE – Pollinator (2017)
Fronted by the rustless Debbie Harry, power pop legend BLONDIE will release tomorrow their 11th full-length studio album “Pollinator“.
Since reuniting in 1999, Blondie have had some trouble figuring out where they fit into the current musical landscape. Are they the nostalgic elders of the New York punk / new wave scenes? Are they trailblazers shaping new sounds with their own inimitable sense of style or conforming to current trends?
Well, Blondie’s intentions were clear when they released the video-singles “Fun” and “Long Time” earlier this year. Both songs make the case that zero time has lapsed since the band’s 1978 masterpiece, Parallel Lines. Of course, several decades have come and gone since Blondie emerged as part of New York’s rock scene in the mid-1970s.
Blondie’s biggest hits traditionally had heavy pop undertones, and that tradition continues with their latest work, which has all the hallmarks of an earnest pop record and yet all the disco-drizzled grit that makes it sound like it was hand-delivered from a ’80s studio suit.
“Pollinator” starts strong with four hook-driven tracks, each a unique pop offering accented by song-launching drumrolls, funk-inspired riffs, and plenty of synth for ears to swim in.
Joan Jett duets with Debbie Harry on album opener ‘Doom or Destiny’, a fitting match that pairs the rough edge in Jett’s voice to Harry’s sweeter croon. She’s not the only guest, not by a long shot, and it’s the corollary talent that winds up making “Pollinator” such a success.
The band recruited several artists to pen tracks for the album, and they’re all Blondie tributes in spirit. Several songs recall the risky abandon of classics Call Me or Hanging On The Telephone with pulsing synth/guitar lines and a constant collision of drums and hi-hat.
There’s loads of synths on ‘Best Day Ever’, and a catchy guitar work on ‘Fun’, a a glossy disco throwback with a 2017 sound.
The pulverized, pixilated drums on ‘Love Level’ weaves around a disciplined horn section and more of that addictive, throbbing synth. It’s a bouncy love song that flirts with wordplay and cheeky imagery – stilettoes, physical equality, innuendo and sexual chemistry. It’s one of the album’s best, and no surprise it was written by Stein and Harry, the band’s co-founders and former lovers.
Blondie has always been Debbie Harry’s vehicle. It’s her allure and DIY style that drove the band’s power pop / rock recklessness to the top of the charts. But the other original band members – writer and guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke – that have long provided the support system to glamorize her romantic yearnings.
“Pollinator” is plenty of that original magic. It’s fun, imaginative and quintessentially Blondie – retooled for a wretched century. Easily the best album since their comeback, and including some of the strongest songs of their career.
01 – Doom or Destiny
02 – Long Time
03 – Already Naked
04 – Fun
05 – My Monster
06 – Best Day Ever
07 – Gravity
08 – When I Gave Up on You
09 – Love Level
10 – Too Much
11 – Fragments
Debbie Harry – vocals
Chris Stein – guitar
Clem Burke – drums
Leigh Foxx – bass
Matt Katz-Bohen – keyboards
Tommy Kessler – guitar