Blondie – Panic of the Girls album review

If you’re an iconic ‘70s and ‘80s pop star, “burn out or fade away” is the question you ask the bartender on a slow Tuesday night. If your songs dominate the soundtracks of recent romantic comedies, you have to wonder whether you’re helping or hurting your legacy by continuing to add to your discography. In short, if you’ve achieved immeasurable international acclaim, you have to wonder: when should it all end?

If you’re a Bob Dylan, the answer is never, defiantly so. But if you’re apparently Blondie, lethargic stubbornness is the name of the game. The band’s newest installment “Panic of Girls” is certainly no ironic Christmas album. The first release since their 2003, “The Curse of Blondie,” it’s a strange, dizzying question mark, a hodgepodge of former Blondie sounds with an uninspired and uninspiring world music flair.

It’s as if Blondie went to Epcot and broke off a taste of techno-lounge music from each country. Their wandering French “Le Bleu” gets absolutely lost in translation. It sounds like an amateur performance in a shadowy, tasteless jazz club. The refrain “Papi, Papi, wipe off my sweat” in the track “Wipe Off My Sweat” feels sloppy and cheap.

In many of the songs, Debbie Harry’s voice is the main museum exhibit. She leers, sneers, and pleads with a texture that’s one half sugar, one half poison. Although her vocals tell a story even when the songs fail to do the same.

Member of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, forerunner of “New Age” music, bastions of creative anger and defiance, Blondie’s legacy is safe, of that there is no doubt. “Panic of Girls” is hardly the first paltry reinvention by a legendary band, and it certainly won’t be the last. Skip this play, turn on “Parallel Lines,” and remember a time when Carter was president, polyester was the king of fabrics, and Blondie still made good punk rock.

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