Blondie: Panic of Girls
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Blondie played a significant role in music history, creating songs that have had a staying power that has carried over decades and into many generations. However, it is debatable whether a receptive audience will now be waiting for their first effort in seven years, an album which was created in the absence of two of its founding members. Many supremely successful rock groups that attempt a return decades after their glory-filled beginnings struggle to find a new fan base, instead relying upon a stronghold of original fans devoted enough to still purchase their albums. Blondie however, managed to make a successful commercial return a decade ago with their well-received hit single “Maria” on 1999’s No Exit.
On Panic of Girls, Blondie returns to their familiar terrain, crafting dance floor-ready singles. The album starts off strong with the compelling and fast tempoed “D-Day.” While the album lacks an obvious standout, there is plenty to like here such as the reggae flavored “Girlie Girlie” that brings to mind their classic hit “The Tide is High.” The catchy, seventies synth-laced “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me” features a catchy refrain, the same as its title, as well as such endearingly dramatic lyrics as, “Crying all night/my tears are oceans.”
Deborah Harry’s voice still bears a striking similarity to the one that hit those impossibly high notes on such classic tracks as “Heart of Glass,” only now, decades later it hits a lower range, lined with a bit more grit. Her lowered range is at times an asset, with it evoking a jaded, seen- it-all sadness on “Sunday Smile,” a track the begins in sunshiney, uptempo latin beats only to slip into the bittersweet with such lyrics as, “we burned to the ground/left a grave to admire.”
While Panic of the Girls does not hold a candle to their earlier albums, it perhaps partly satisfies a nostalgia for a more gratifying time in pop music history when the charts were lit up by talented bands that merged catchy pop with edgy rock, and offered something more than over-produced, auto tuned pop music too calculated for a soul. On Panic of Girls, Blondie proves they are capable of creating new, compelling work unlike other rock legends that return only to regurgitate reworkings of their back catalogue of hits.