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Calmness of Panic
on February 15, 2012
Never a stranger to genre jumping, Blondie's third album since refiguring themselves ("No Exit," "The Curse of Blondie"), and "The Panic of Girls" goes for the hopscotch with gusto. Debbie Harry makes you start salivating when the electic pulse and Bo-Diddly drums kick off "D-Day" is classic Blondie style. She teases you bay singing 'Debbie, Devil, don't you dare, day of the Deb..." or at least that's what it sounds like. There's all the wonderful traits of the great Blondie singles: self depreciating, a wink and a smirk, Debbie's pure and unique voice and a kicking hook.
"What I Heard" continues with same force, then "Mother" (about an old fave nightclub from the band's Lower Manhattan formative years) makes it to third base. But then "Panic of Girls" starts to scatter. "The End The End" and "Sunday Smile" are the required "Tide is High" retreads, "Le Blue" is four and a half minutes of pseudo French cabaret kitsch, and "China Shoes" closes the album with a yawn. The only surprise is that they didn't attempt to clone a "Heart of Glass" single. Still, then band plays with the groove of a unit that's been working together long enough to sound casually perfect, and that makes the halfway songs like "Words In My Mouth" or the remix ready "Wipe of My Sweat" enjoyable.
"Panic of Girls" is about as good as "The Curse" and doesn't pander the way "No Exit" did (no trendy cameos here). It's also a better album than Harry's "Necessary Evil." Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke still make quite a racket for old fans, just remember that these are old pros making sturdy if unremarkable music for us oldsters.