Album review: Pollinator by Blondie

Blondie have come up with a novel solution to the creative lethargy that often bedevils a band deep into their career. 

Album review: Pollinator by Blondie

Rather than attempting to recreate the magic that yielded hits such as ‘Sunday Girl’ and ‘Heart of Glass’, with eleventh album Pollinator they’ve outsourced the task to a younger generation of writers — all of whom happen to be huge fans of Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and their peerless new wave catalogue.

Among the diehard devotees participating are pop singer Charli XCX, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Nick Valensi of The Strokes, and TV on the Radio producer Dave Sitek.

Surprisingly it is the Sitek cut, ‘Fun’, that has reacquainted the Blondie with the top ten, with the single debuting at number three in the UK “physical” charts (ie. excluding the streaming charts and their endless Ed Sheeran plays) .

The big “get” however is Beyonce and Rihanna songwriter Sia Furler. Her gift of achingly vulnerable melodies prove the perfect fit for Blondie’s sassy-yet-brittle persona on the bittersweet ‘Best Day Ever’ (it is of course actually about the worst day ever).

Elsewhere, the project’s true strength is revealed to be the voice of the now 71-year-old Debbie Harry. Duskier and more careworn than in her heyday, her lilt nonetheless blends that familiar sweetness and bruised ache on ‘Long Time’ (by Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes) and ‘Gravity’, the zinging Charli XCX track.

Yet it is telling that the most authentically Blondie moment is the solitary self-penned number, ‘Doom Or Destiny’.

With a peppy guitar line from fellow 1970s survivor Joan Jett, it splices a melancholic hook and powerfully introspective lyrics by Harry (who manages to sound world weary without lapsing into crotchety disillusionment). It’s by far the best thing here — which attests both to missed opportunities but also to Blondie’s fine creative fettle.

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