Two decades into their second coming, Blondie have a patchy latterday track record. Their last album, Ghosts Of Download, was a disjointed, guest-heavy mishmash clumsily released on the back of a greatest hits collection. Pollinator also features multiple guest players and songwriters including Johnny Marr, Joan Jett, Laurie Anderson and Dave Sitek. But it is a more coherent and classy affair, self-consciously drawing on the band’s primetime New Wave sound without milking it for cheesy nostalgia. Long Time is certainly one of their strongest songs in years, a shimmering disco-rock anthem that could be a world-weary sequel to Heart Of Glass.
Even at 71, Harry’s voice still has that ageless dreamycool aloofness, although it is excessively filtered and treated on several tracks. On the agreeably subversive post-love ballad When I Gave Up On You, she reflects on the liberating joy of leaving failed relationships with all the hard-won wisdom of a punk Dolly Parton. She also sounds pleasingly spiky on the closing number Fragments, a torrid tirade against a lukewarm lover that builds to Morrissey-esque levels of sarcastically self-dramatising melodrama. Two or three weaker numbers drag quality levels down, but Pollinator contains enough vintage Blondie spirit to get the old juices flowing again.