In the July edition of Nylon, Debbie Harry sports a dog collar-style choker and red motorcycle jacket. She claims in the interview that the Greenwich Village she once knew in the 70s is now “too civilized.” She is 71. Rather than resigning to pensive acoustic albums as so many legends have done later in life, Blondie keeps their sound in their 11th album, “Pollinator” frisky and crisp. The first four songs on the record prove that Blondie is still a rock band that is and always has been a relevant and quintessential to the makeup of American music.
For me, it’s often hard to discern how classic rock bands approach today’s music world. I’m often torn between the feeling that older bands’ updated sounds feel like a sellout, or an attempt to conform to new standards of music for the sake of sales. But it’s perfectly clear with “Pollinator” that Blondie has gracefully moved and changed with the times.
Blondie’s modern sound can be attributed to the lengthy lineup of new and legendary collaborators. From legends like Johnny Marr (Smith’s guitarist) to new, relevant pop artists like Charlie CXC and Dev Hynes, Blondie collects a range of talents to practically construct their album into a modern pop rock collage. The album’s single “Fun” perfectly balances the disco beats that made Blondie famous with modern sounds and a catchy chorus. The other single “Long Time” which was co-written by Harry and Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes is fun yet, reflective, giving us the sense that Harry is still the ferocious fun-loving frontwoman she has always been, just with more experience this time. “Doom or Destiny,” one of the few songs written by Harry her longtime band mate and partner in crime Christ Stein, feels uniquely Blondie and rock and roll, compared to the other pop songs on the album. Joan Jett’s backup vocals on the track remind me of Blondie’s New Wave CBGB roots. The closing track, “Fragments,” the most moving track on the record, is a reflective rock ballad in which Harry’s voice is uncensored and powerful. Although it’s a cover of a Vancouver artist’s piano ballad, it proves that Blondie is still open to experimentation and inspiration in unexpected places.
Although Harry’s mature voice is often overworked with layering and backup vocals, her attitude and songwriting prowess is still obviously amazing. In that Nylon interview, she claims explains that “we have our survival system set in place This is it.” Clearly, Blondie’s record isn’t a product of bored band members or a need for more money, but another dazzling record amongst many in a relevant and respected career.