Where do you go after you perfected the three minute pop punk song and dominated what used to be fondly known as the chart? It would be easy to stop writing and just tour the hits forever and a day. Thankfully Blondie have decided that movement is better than stasis and enlisted people as diverse as Johnny Marr, Joan Jett, Nick Valensi (The Stokes), Charlie XCX,Dimitri Tikovoï and Sia to help out on their eleventh album, Pollinator.
‘Doom or Destiny’ is a straightforward punk rock song of the type in which the band excels. When you hear the drums you know it can be the one and only Clem Burke and he is in top form throughout. Okay, they aren’t breaking new ground but then again it is a ground they helped define and create so, you can’t really complain. ‘Long Time’ does what Blondie best, namely write a song driven by melody, a beat and the voice of Debbie Harry. She sings of The Bowery of yesteryear, of love, of ageing and remembering. ‘Already Naked’ shows that, at the age of 71, the topic of love and sex is not just the purview of the vacuous chanteuses that sing the mass produced pap that often passes for music these days. ‘We Can Still Radiate’ sings Harry and bravo for that. ‘Fun’ expands on the theme with a disco shuffle led by a classic Chris Stein guitar line. ‘My Monster’ bristles with energy and listening to it you realise the depth of experience that Debbie Harry has in her voice, this track was written by the great Johnny Marr and is, without hesitation, the standout moment on the album.
‘Best Day Ever’ is a bit paint-by-numbers and feels a bit tired. However, ‘Gravity’ lifts things back up with a fuzz-laden vocal, falsetto chorus and a sprinkling of synth and keys that binds it all together. ‘When I Gave Up on You’ has a country feel and has heartache at the centre that was a hallmark of early Blondie. ‘Love Level’ is built about the conceit of love going up and down like an elevator. It doesn’t quite work and feels a bit flat. ‘Too Much’ keeps things ticking along but album closer ‘Fragments’ finishes things on a high note going from a torchlight ballad to straightforward punk blowout with the refrain of “do you love me now?” adding the prerequisite grit.
After all these years Blondie still have something to say and they can still make you dance and isn’t that what rock n’ roll is all about.