Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Curse of Blondie

NYC New Wavers put an indelible formula through fresh changes

Few bands have performed the stardom/breakup/reunion hustle with more Úlan than Blondie. Singer-symbol Debbie Harry pursued the usual solo career with unusual avant-garde chutzpah; guitarist-Svengali Chris Stein hung on to his songwriting chops through life-threatening illness; and their 1999 comeback album, No Exit, ranked with the group's '70s classics. At a slightly diminished level, so does this well-worked follow-up. Dub, metal, Okinawan folk, hip-hop and various strains of out jazz all inflect Blondie's hooky popcraft, and they never pretend they're something they're not, such as young. Feisty, however, they remain: "White as a Tic-Tac/Why don't you take a dirt nap?" Harry raps to an inadequate male. To which he could reply: "You are too, and you're not ready."

Blender, Apr. 2004