BLONDIE – Pollinator
Blondie has nothing left to prove after four decades in the business.
Their disco-punk template has been celebrated and appropriated across almost every sub-genre of popular music. They made it cool for punk fans to love pop and ok for the dancing queens to take a cab deep into the bowels of the Bowery. For many of us living in suburbia, they introduced us to rap music with “Rapture” in 1980. On Pollinator, Blondie deliver an effervescent celebration of their own legacy with help from a diverse collective of collaborators.
On opener “Doom or Destiny” (with Joan Jett), the band’s influence on the last few decades starts to come into focus. Perched on the precipice between punk and new wave, the band hits the accelerator on the time machine with the controls set for 1979. Sounding sweet without showing a hint of vulnerability, Deborah Harry remains one of the most important female voices in music. Harry proved that being beautiful and fierce were not mutually exclusive conditions in rock-n-roll and she blazed a path for Shirley Manson, Lady Gaga and countless other creative women.
Deborah Harry remains one of the most important female voices in music
Collaborators Sia and Charli XCX owe much to Harry; and their contributions to the album are a little too conscious of that fact. The Johnny Marr cover (“My Monster”) best captures a modern Blondie sound and one hopes the next record will shelve the abundance of collaborations. However, Pollinator is far from a disappointment. The dusting of nostalgia on “Long Time” (an updated “Heart of Glass’) and “Love Level” (an updated “The Tide Is High”) are pleasant reminders of a time when New Wave could mean literally anything musically.
The closer, “Fragments”, starts as a sweeping ballad that could anchor a James Bond film. Harry asks “do you love me” over and over before spitting out “then fucking prove it” as the guitars and drums launch into a soaring synth-punk odyssey that stretches to seven minutes. It’s a grand finale to an album full of guest stars who work hard to prove that, yes, in fact, we do love Deborah Harry and Blondie.