Blondie‘s eleventh album Pollinator reinvents the band’s renowned seventies punk sound for the modern day. Alongside a trove of some of the most iconic musicians of this era; Johnny Marr, Charlie XCX, Sia and Nick Valensi of the Strokes, Blondie attempts to reach out to a younger audience while simultaneously recapturing the hearts of old fans. The result? A mash of old and new styles that clash but compliment one another in their bid to innovate in a traditional fashion. The album is in itself a complete anomaly as musicians from every background collaborate together to harness the sound of a career that spans over forty years.
‘Doom Or Destiny’, the rousing opening track, pays homage to days of old as Blondie’s classic writing duo Chris Stein and Debbie Harry take centre stage in its creation. Founding drummer, Clem Burke’s jagged but thrilling percussion kicks the album off to a lively start. Burrowing deeper into the Blondie archives, ‘Long Time’ erupts with an infectious and familiar riff that hints to the band’s early single, ‘Heart of Glass.’ A sturdy introduction, enough to trigger mild want to listen on.
The album runs with a recurring theme of nostalgia; a longing for times of blissful innocence. In this, Harry sings us through a lengthy eleven-track lesson in love, loss and friendships. Pollinator strikes as an unintentional coming-of-age album, brought to life by the aforementioned team of acclaimed pop/rock influencers and writers. Charlie XCX’s contribution to the album, ‘Gravity’, is a snappy punk belter with a synth breakdown striking right in the middle. This intertwining of two genres is the epitome of Blondie’s forty year career span and a defining track of Pollinator. Sia takes the reins in ‘Best Day Ever’; a simplistic, but fun track that’s just above the ranking of a filler-track, but not significant enough to be considered a peak-track in Pollinator.
Both artists are avid fans of Blondie and were invited to contribute to the album by Harry herself. “Their material is part of us and we are part of them,” says Debbie Harry of their co-writers, all of whom were influenced by her band in the first place. “It’s a celebration of recycling.”
Along with joining the band on guitar, Johnny Marr also contributes his writing skills in the eery, ‘My Monster’. This, more than any other track, successfully revamps Blondie’s defining punk-seventies sound through its innovative vocal arrangements and chilling riffs. Again, Harry reflects on hers and other people’s foolish past: “Human beings are stupid things when we’re young.”
This collection of artists, from varying ages backgrounds and genres, expose Pollinator to a threat of incoherency and inconsistency within the album. Their risk has paid off as Blondie’s all-inclusive eleventh album is far from the barnyard explosion of mayhem one would expect. It is in fact a stunning collection of different perspectives and outlooks on life. Despite the often clashing musical personas; each artist takes their most memorable Blondie influences and applies those in their featured tracks, thus creating a common ground between The Smiths and Charlie XCX, The Strokes and Sia. Pollinator has unintentionally become a creative tribute album to Blondie’s career, while featuring Blondie themselves.
Although lacking in some tracks in terms of lyrical depth and polishing, the general essence of inclusion and nostalgia is still evident across the board. This success in continuity in a collaborative album is a commendable rarity. Kudos to you, Blondie.
Pollinator is out now via BMG/Infectious.