The term ‘legend’ is not one to be thrown around loosely, but if there is one band and character who deserves this title, it is Blondie and Debbie Harry. First becoming a musical icon in the late 1970s, Blondie broke into the new wave scene, soon becoming heavy-weights in the industry. The music industry, and particularly rock, has always been male dominated, but Harry has bucked this trend. Her class of cool has always been beyond the reach of anyone else, keeping her care-free reputation for the past five decades. With such an extensive back-catalogue and legendary reputation to uphold, a new Blondie album brings with it a lot of trepidation. However, once again, the band deliver with an album worthy of their standing.
Since Blondie reformed in the late 1990s, the band have explored numerous different styles, including electronic and pop, but Pollinator is most certainly reminiscent of classic, seventies-era Blondie. Harry’s vocals are distinctly recognisable and very impressive for a 71-year- old rock-star. From the album’s fast paced opener, ‘Doom or Destiny’, the listener is greeted by the beautiful pairing of Stein and Harry, who have always complimented each other so wonderfully. The guitar chords burn through the track and could fit as happily of Parallel Lines, whilst Harry’s vocals provide the same thrill of any wild 20-something. The recent single and album highlight, ‘Long Time’, has an air of ‘Sunday Girl’, whilst the lyrics “Chasing down The Bowery, on a crowded afternoon” brings to mind ‘Hanging on the Telephone’. But this isn’t ‘Sunday Girl’ or ‘Hanging on the Telephone’, and Harry seems older and wiser in her lyrics. Many classic rock bands attempt to recreate their sounds from the 70s, unable to break new ground, but here Blondie have done something pretty clever – this is reminiscent of what made them so successful, but without being a repeat of previous work.
As the album progresses, it quietens, with tracks such as ‘When I gave up on you’, lacking the energy of the first few tracks. But this slower pace, provides age and wisdom to the band’s sound. ‘Love Level’ is the album’s trough, appearing a little try-hard to sounds fresh and relevant. The vocals are overly auto-tuned for effect, and the half-rap doesn’t have the success of a track such as ‘Rapture’. However, this brief dip can be looked past, as the catchy ‘Too Much’ and the brooding, moody ‘Fragments’ close the album with the success it started with.
In Pollinator Blondie don’t revolutionise music; this isn’t Parallel Lines. Maybe they are past wanting to break every boundary and instead just keeping to what they know. However, Pollinator is still a wonderful collection of tracks, showing off what Blondie has always done – make really good music.