This new Blondie album has been a long wait for eager fans like myself, but while the majority of said fans were delighted with the outcome, I was left thinking “I waited eight years for this!” Blondie releases are always surrounded my mysterious circumstances, and this time around it was no different. Recorded during late 2009 to early 2010, its release was delayed several times due to dramas with various record labels, and so the wait dragged on and on to the point where I wondered if it would ever show at all.
When Panic Of Girls (the band’s ninth studio album) finally showed itself late this year, the band had already been performing several songs live for a full year and so it killed off a bit of the mystique that should have surrounded its release. There’s no doubt in my mind that Deborah Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke are still passionate and youthful in spirit, but I’m starting to think that the ten years of constant touring may have drained some much needed life from their creative juices.
There’s nothing on this album that is remotely of the same ilk of the band’s greatest work, much less anything even vaguely memorable once the disc stops spinning. I’m not sure why, because all of the elements for success in the studio are still in place, and along with long-time bassist Leigh Foxx, the group have added two fresh faces on keyboards and guitars to inject some youth and new ideas into proceedings following Paul Carbonara ending his thirteen year tenure with Blondie. Original band member Jimmy Destri was going to resume his membership with the group only in the studio, but that fell through, too, and so for whatever reason, this album just doesn’t take off.
Harry’s pipes are still in fine form and there are some nice moments to be found here like “Girlie Girlie” and “Words In My Mouth,” but some cuts like “D-Day” and “The End The End” are truly diabolical. “Sunday Smile” is very retro and should have worked better than it does, but Harry is just phoning this one in. The stupid generic dance pop of “Wipe Off My Sweat” is further ruined by the odd decision of Harry’s to sing the verses in Spanish.
This is, of course, followed by a lifeless French ditty “Le Bleu.” Honestly I hope our beloved Debs hasn’t lost the plot, because she’s much better than this tripe as her last solo album (from 2007) Necessary Evil proved. That record at least had spunk and character; this too-slick-for-its-own-good throwaway disc has none of either.
“China Shoes,” “Mother,” and “What I Heard” are all okay, but only just, and like I said before, they sure don’t stick in my memory bank with all the other great Blondie songs I shuffle around in there.
So I don’t know if maybe its time they all gave it up, but I don’t see them dragging themselves off the touring rollercoaster anytime soon as the band seems intent on appearing at every music festival on the planet before they check out. Or maybe they should raid their vaults and see what’s left over from previous years because it would have to be more satisfying than anything dished up here.
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