Blondie is back!,
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This review is from: Panic of Girls (Fan Pack) (Audio CD)
I was somewhat amazed to discover Panic of Girls advertised here: so nice to learn Blondie are still in the game EIGHT years after "Curse". Eight years is not 17, but it's still a long time... This is a nice, relaxed, eclectic little package which strolls through the genres as it wishes. It's not really all that comparable to the other 2 post-reunion CDs, not as melodic and song-structured as No Exit, not alternately sweet and hard-driving like Curse. This band still knows how to surprise. We got rock, pop, reggae, Spanish salsa, a French ballad: one thing that's NOT here is Jazz Passengers-type vocal stylings by Deb as on the last two tracks of Curse. Just as well, I say. Rather have Latin salsa any day.
The big magazine that comes with the fan pack is really nice to have: it's got interviews, historical reviews of all the albums, history of the band, Debbie in film, Debbie as female pop icon & trailblazer, lots of new photos, you name it. What it does NOT have is any news about what happened to Jimmy Destri. You have to go to his website to find out he has become a licensed substance abuse therapist after going through his own particular drug ordeal. Apparently he "was asked" about rejoining around 2008, but must have declined, as that was when new keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen came in. The good news is that Katz-Bohen has written two VERY good pop songs for this album, one of which is damned near perfect ("What I Heard"), a fact which obviously was not lost on the other two ace songwriters this band has. This goes some way toward mitigating the loss of Destri's skills in that department... not ALL the way, but some way, and it is most welcome. But one wonders about the failure to mention Destri in the mag, except historically: I sure hope this is not a repeat of the ostracizing of Infante & Harrison, that would be a TOTAL bummer...
Clem is obviously busy exploring world music these days (remember "Jen-Jen" from Necessary Evil?): he's responsible for the gorgeous "Girlie Girlie" reggae being here (how anyone could dis this song - and it has been dissed in this place - is beyond me), as well as Zach Condon from Beirut ("Sunday Smile" with its lovely trumpet part), & the Gainsbourg-flavoured "Le Bleu". It all just makes the disc all the more tasty. After the pure rock of the first three tracks, things seem to settle into this world ambiance. No complaints from me here. I think the best vocal performance from Deb is "Words in my Mouth" (Don't Put), where she adopts a character and plays it out perfectly.
All things considered, then, this is a very good, self-assured product from what continues to be one of the best pop bands in the world, and amazingly, a band that is still growing. Material has already been written for the next album! Please don't let it take another eight years! (after all, Deb just turned 66 - how much more time can they have?). Don't know if it's a "classic" as some reviewers are touting, but it sure is damned good. And it's fantastic to have Blondie still with us after all these years!