Blondie ‘Panic of Girls’ – Review

9 Jul

It’s been over eight years since Blondie made an album so you’d think a new one would be a pretty big deal, and yet there really hasn’t been much fanfare surrounding the release of their eighth studio album ‘Panic of Girls’. Maybe it’s because their last album was a bland disappointment or maybe it’s because they haven’t come back with a big first single like 1999’s ‘Maria’. Or maybe, just maybe, it could be that ‘Panic of Girls’ simply isn’t good enough to merit fanfare. Unfortunately it’s the latter that proves to be true.

It’s not that ‘Panic of Girls’ is a very bad album, in fact it’s considerably better than recent albums put out by the likes of New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and many of Blondie’s New York chums, it’s just that it’s incredibly unspectacular. The songs are basically deformed ghosts of Blondie songs past; ‘What I Heard’ sounds like ‘Atomic’, ‘The End, The End’ sounds like ‘The Tide is High’, and ‘Mother’ sounds like ‘Maria’. These are all decent songs but I feel more than a bit disappointed that Blondie returned after eight years with such an unoriginal collection.

But before I completely slate Blondie for sticking to what they’re good at maybe I should hold my horses, as when Blondie attempt something a bit different on the second half of the record, there are disastrous results. The songs I mentioned above make up the best part of the album and unfortunately they arrive within the first 15 minutes – things go sharply downhill after this point. ‘Wipe off my sweat’ and ‘Le Bleu’ are sung mainly in french/Spanish and combine accordions with techno beats; it goes without saying that they sound horrible. ‘Girlie Girlie’s’ cod-reggae swagger is embarrassing but at least this song has a hook that gets into your head, unlike the dreary ‘Sunday Smile’. It doesn’t help that most of the tracks drag on for at least a minute too long – what happened to the band’s punk restraint? The Ramones would be ashamed that half of the songs pass the four-minute mark for no good reason.

Very few bands last as long as Blondie, and bands that do last for a reason (Blondie are a legendary band and the world is a better place for still having them), but it’s rarely because they have continued success with new studio albums. The most these dinosaur acts can hope for is that one or two tracks make it onto the summer tour setlist and don’t bomb alongside the classics. I guess on those terms ‘Panic of Girls’ is a success, as there are two or three near classic Blondie moments here. But it’s far from a great album – in fact, I’m sorry to report that all things considered it’s a bit of a dud.



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