Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Subject: 'Pollinator'

In lieu of a review of the new album by my favorite band of all time, here's a quick email exchange that sums it up nicely between me and my Blondie-friend Bruce (aka Taffy), who calls me a "fair weather" fan!

Hey Kenneth...
So - you like? I think Fun and (especially) Long Time are very very strong singles. And i already liked My Monster and Fragments as soon as i heard them. As for the rest, which i finally heard when i got the album the beginning of this week, i honestly don't dislike any of it (which is REALLY saying something, after the weak techno on Ghosts and the world music dabbling on Panic of Girls). Hell, there's no stupid rap song, a la No Exit or Shakedown (on Curse)! I guess i am least enamored with Best Day Ever and When I Gave Up On You, but this is shaping up (with repeated listens) to be my fave post-reunion album, and surely will be one of my top ten of 2017. Absolutely cannot wait to see them with Garbage in August...from my front row seat! :) 

Hey there.
Yeah, you kind of hit the nail on the "Pollinator" head. The first two songs ("Doom or Destiny" and "Long Time") are REALLY good and, like you said, there's nothing after that makes me jump to hit the "skip" button, which is definitely not true of the previous comeback efforts. (Sorry, I still think "Fun" sounds like a Honda ad. Why wasn't "Good Boys" the No. 1 Dance Club single instead of this?!) I wish they hadn't used a lot of the processing on the vocals, but that's hard to escape these days. I agree that each song has its merits. The only negative being most don't exactly sound like Blondie songs -- but at least better-than-average Debbie solo songs ("Too Much" is the fun Debbie comeback single that never was, and "When I Gave Up on You" belongs on "Debravation"!). I really think if there had been three Jimmy Destri songs added to the mix it would have given it a more authentic Blondie sound and it could have been borderline great but yeah, I'm pleasantly surprised/relieved.

P.S. Is it just me or is the "mix" off on this album? So much of it sounds strangely tinny. My friend Dishy thinks they're going for a "buzzing" effect to match the album's title but I'm not so convinced.


macguffin Fifty four said...

I just don't like what has happened to her voice and it has become very difficult for me to ignore. It sounds like she smokes ten packs of cigarettes a day and is trying to over compensate for her hoarse voice by singing in an exaggerated falsetto (or whatever the word is).

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@macguffin: I know exactly what you mean.

Bob K said...

There is truth there but there ought to be some understanding that a seventy year old woman is going to have a lower and less pure voice 90% of the time.
I love blonde day. I also love Dolly Parton who has Been half Whispering or songs for 10 years

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

@Bob K: I agree. It's the vibrato/Britney Spears tricks I don't like. I'm fine with how she sounded on "The Tonight Show."

JimmyD said...

Taffy nails it :)

Anonymous said...

It's the auto-tune that turned this into a one-listen only album for me. I don't care if she sounds older or softer, but she should sound human.

Taffy said...

I didn't address the voice issue in my brief email exchange with dear Kenneth, but alas there is certainly processing going on with a lot of the vocals. It (mostly) doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the material, and I am "comforted" knowing that the new songs will sound better live than current renditions of Atomic or Call Me (which simply cannot be reproduced by Debbie as they sounded in the studio 35+ years ago). Even as a superfan I'm aware of Debbie's limitations, and choose to be happy that my favorite artist is still making music and performing at an age I will surely be fat, lazy and retired.

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