‘Pollinator’ stays true to Blondie’s classic sound while keeping it relevant and fresh for 2017, and shows there’s plenty of life in the band yet.
Blondie’s 11th album Pollinator was released last Friday. It’s an interesting listen as it sounds completely fresh and new while maintaining the classic Blondie sound. The record oozes their classic New York cool, and it reinforces that they’ve been in this business long enough now that they can make absolutely anything sound like their own, as Debbie and Chris have only written two of the songs themselves. It’s no secret that Blondie have always been huge music fans, and have been known to completely change the sound of their music to fit whatever was inspiring them at the time (see: ‘Heart Of Glass’, ‘Rapture’, ‘The Tide Is High’). They’re also no strangers to covers and collaborations and on this album they have worked with artists as diverse as Johnny Marr, Joan Jett, Sia and Charli XCX.
Pollinator kicks straight in with Clem Burke’s iconic drum sound on ‘Doom Or Destiny’, making it instantly recognisable as a Blondie album. Next we have ‘Long Time’ which sounds like the 2017 equivalent of ‘Heart Of Glass’, and is probably the catchiest song on the album. The record is full of pop songs that, in classic Blondie style, rely heavily upon synths. However, Pollinator’s sound is a lot more clever and refined than 2014’s Ghosts Of Download. It sounds like a Saturday night and songs such as ‘Already Naked’ and ‘Fun’ have a definite anthemic quality to them, but the real stand out track on this album is their cover of ‘Fragments’, originally a piano ballad by An Unkindness, written by film blogger Adam Johnston.
‘Fragments’ starts off moody and a bit sexy, with Debbie’s now mature, higher vocals over the top makes it sound almost haunting while she repeatedly asks “do you love me now?”. As soon as she announces that “everything comes in pieces”, the song kicks in, the tempo changes and it easily feels like it could be a CBGBs throwback, something that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Plastic Letters. Everything about the song is epic – it’s seven minutes long and really shows off the talents of every member of the band, the synth and drums in particular.
Overall, Pollinator is an eminently solid album that keeps Blondie up to date in 2017, more than 40 years after their foundation, which is much more than can be said now for so many of their new-wave contemporaries back then. It stays true to their classic sound but isn’t just a repeat of what they’ve done before. Blondie are great for constantly moving their music forward and not just regurgitating the classics, and this record is a perfect example of that. (7/10) (Jesse Casey)
Listen to Pollinator here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Blondie, BMG, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Debbie Harry, Jesse Casey, Leigh Foxx, Matt Katz-Bohen, Noble, Pollinator, review, Tommy Kessler
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