Everybody and their goldfish knows who Blondie are. My first memory of Blondie’s music was watching Angelica Pickles butcher “One Way Or Another” during Rugrats The Movie. When I grew a little older, I heard “Call Me” as a murderous doll gave herself a makeover in The Bride Of Chucky. This prompted me to log on to Napster and download every album the band had ever made.
And Debbie Harry- what an icon. A woman who has timeless style and cheek bones that could carve meat. It really comes as no surprise that many famous names have rushed to work with the 71 year old on her new record Pollinator. Like their last album, many outside writers have been pulled in for what is their 11th Studio album. But thankfully the signature Blondie sound is still harnessed by the Chris Stein and Harry duo.
Pollinator opens with “Doom Or Destiny” accompanied by Joan Jett. Like a ’70s wet dream, the pair escorts us back to a time when music was in its prime. We also find echoes of vintage sounds in their single “Fun” and “Long Time”. Tracks like these make Pollinator worth picking up.
We also see a contribution from Johnny Marr who adds his Smiths-style notes in “My Monster”. ‘Human beings are stupid things,’ Debbie coos as the tap dancing drums of Clem Buke patter in the background. “Gravity” brings us back to 2017 which was carefully penned by the British pop star Charli XCX. It sounds modern but doesn’t swing too far from the band’s old style.
Though (badly) disguised by synths and tuning, naturally Harry’s voice isn’t what it once was. A few songs showcase it in the poorest light along with the clumsy lyrics. For instance “Best Day Ever” is among the tracks that fall a little weak. But Harry still shines through on others. Especially in “When I Gave Up On You” which is the record’s staple ballad and most memorable song.
Pollinator has brought Blondie’s sound back, decorated in Shepard Fairey’s art. What the band created in The Magic Shop studio was true to their roots. But, with the help of friends, they’ve brought it forward to the present. For any Blondie fan, this album is as essential as a coffee in the morning.
Stand Out Track: "When I Gave Up On You"