If you ever wondered what happened to the trendy, downtown stylishness of Blondie in their proudly classicist reunion albums, Necessary Evil provides the answer: Debbie Harry was saving all those tricks for her first album in 14 years. Necessary Evil finds Harry delving deeply into all sorts of trends, both past and present, as she overstuffs this album with electro-beats, passing hip-hop references, allusions to her collaborations with the Jazz Passengers, worldbeat, retro-new wave -- basically anything that she's tried before on record is detectable here, along with nods toward modern music inspired by Blondie. On paper it sounds interesting, almost like a culmination of her work, but as Necessary Evil plays, it feels like a mess, as it careens between extremes and feels unformed, both as a larger work and often on individual songs. That untidiness makes many of Harry's explorations -- the angular fuzz-funk of "Deep End," the farting synths of "Love with Vengeance," the skittering rhythms of "Charm Redux," her singing of the devil's dick on "School of Scandal" -- sound vaguely desperate, as there is nothing connecting these adventures from song to song (and sometimes within a song, it all falls apart). There are interesting moments here, but they're fleeting, crying out for a bit of the deliberate craft of Blondie's comeback albums, which may be predictable but at least they're focused, which makes for easier listening than this long 17-track slog of sound.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine