Featuring song-writing and production collaborations with some of the smoothest dolls and guys (Dev Hynes!) in modern alterna-pop, Blondie (and Debbie) strike gold in this triumphant, rockin’ return of an album.
How do I love Debbie Harry? Let me count the ways…
Hold up. If I seriously counted them all, I’d be here all day. Despite not really being Patti Smith’s best gal pal (and I love Patti to death so don’t get it twisted, fool!) and despite the protests of Blondie being a GROUP, not a girl, and even despite her solo efforts, which are largely uneven, Deborah Harry is a glittery, gorgeous rock superstar. Of course, by rock we don’t mean guitar-between-your-legs-and-rip-roaring-rhythms. In Debbie’s case, we mean CBGB, New Wave, New York cool. Not quite a pure punk and not quite a pop diva, and all the better for it, Debbie with her voice like silk set the world on fire with Blondie, and they prove here that they STILL got it on thier wonderful new album, Pollinator.
Blondie (as a GROUP) has always been down for the unconventional. They were among the first rock bands to incorporate disco influences and get away with it with thier punk pass intact, and of course, sorry Tairrie B (a ” ruthless bitch” in her own right!) Brooke Candy, or Kreayshawn (you know I love you girl!!!!), this pouty lipped 70’s Blondie was the first real white-girl rapper. Wild. “Rapture” totally bumps though even while subverting what we thought could be “rock” back then, and on Pollinator, Blondie subverts what we think can be pop, AND what we thought Blondie could do in 2017.
This album opens with a flurry of drums on the track “Doom or Destiny”, a song that sounds straight outta Parallel Lines in the best way. Blonde is just getting started here, the song grooving along on a simple New Wave-y riff while Debbie sings in a deadpan coo. It’s a duet with Joan Jett, making it extra cool, and thier voices work so well together. And the lyrics are as clever as ever (that rhymed!) : Is it my fate or Fatal Attraction/ Is it a fait accomplit? Genius.
A standout track, in my opinion, on this album is the Charli-XCX penned “Gravity.” It’s dizzingly synthy but sounds almost like Blondie and the early Strokes had a baby. Naturally, I love it, and Debbie’s wails through the chorus are GOLD.
(Side note: The Strokes’s very own Nick Valensi payed down some guitar for the song “Best Day Ever”, also written by Sia. Sad to say, because I do love Nick’s guitar (not really a big Sia fan), but I’m not feeling it. Too uneven.)
“Love Level” takes the Caribbean influence from a Blondie hit of yore, “The Tide Is High”, slightens it, and makes it totally club-ready. It’s a banger, though the lyrics aren’t what I’m paying attention to here. Pure instrumentals over here. It’s worth a few listens though.
A song I guess maybe I didn’t get, but however way you slice it, just didn’t LIKE, is “Fragments.” It drags and I just don’t like it. It also closes the album, at least on streaming, so there is also that and in my opinion it’s not a good closing track. We got such a good opening track and THIS is what we get? It’s like opening with a two fisted wallop and ending with a soft pat on the back.
Overall, this album takes a step in a different direction for Blondie, but not so wildly different that we’d get lost. Some songs are glossy-rock perfection, some fall a bit flat, but this album overall is a winner. And you can bet “Gravity” is going on my songs-of-the-month Spotify playlist. Thanks Debbie and Blondie for this fun return to music!