As the third new Blondie album of the 2010s, Pollinator falls into something of a familiar pattern. Ever since 2011's Panic of Girls, the revived Blondie have been determined to fit within the confines of contemporary music, riding the remnants of the new wave revival and emphasizing electronics. Unlike Ghosts of Download, which was buried as a second disc with a collection of re-recordings of greatest hits in 2014, Pollinator pushes splashy guest stars. Blood Orange co-writes "Long Time" with Debbie Harry, Joan Jett guests on the opener "Doom or Destiny," Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi appears on "Best Day Ever," which he co-wrote with Sia Furler, and the group cover both Johnny Marr ("My Monster") and Charli XCX ("Gravity"). That's a lot of cooks, so it's not entirely a surprise that Pollinator can sometimes seem overheated, only settling into a simmer on "When I Gave Up on You" (which also features a guest in the form of the Gregory Brothers). That said, the sheets of synths and sly nods to the group's disco-punk past don't seem desperate, no matter how aggressive the production is. There's almost a charm in the way Blondie push so hard: it's hard to think of another legacy act so determined to play a part of the modern musical dialogue without losing their identity. If they're not always successful, there's nevertheless something ingratiating about the ambition.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine