Blondie

No Exit (Beyond Records)

Perhaps I'm dating myself, but the first record I ever owned was a K-TEL compilation that included hits by Rick James, the Police and, my personal favorite, "Rapture" by Blondie. In fact I listened to "Rapture" so many times that to this day, it's still committed to memory word for word. I've yet to truly decipher the meaning of the song's cryptic pseudo-French coda: "Flash is fast, flash is cool, Francois c'est pas flashe non due," but thanks to the band's reunion and a new comeback album -- No Exit -- it's a translation that can be pondered anew.

While my own tastes have hopefully matured in the past two decades, so have those of Blondie. The old Blondie fused rap ("Rapture"), ska ("The Tide Is High"), and rock and disco ("Call Me") into a truly unique mix. The new Blondie continues to defy labels in a music scene that has as divided a market as ever. Deborah Harry, who has spent the last few years fronting the Jazz Passengers, dissolves remarkable jazz vocal stylings into a pop format in "Boom Boom in the Zoom Zoom Room." It's a fusion that I find as appealing as any of Blondie's work, past or present. The band continues to rap, which is unfortunate because the same approach that helped bring mainstream attention to the genre twenty years ago now sounds like Dr. Seuss with rhythm. That Coolio also sounds a bit forced during his guest rap on the title track tells me that it's the writing, not the singer that no longer works as a rap. Aside from that, however, the entire album improves with each listen. Harry's ethereal voice, the eerie keyboards, solid and intriguing guitar lines, and the drums that are temporally adrift somewhere between vintage disco and modern house beats, all reunite to form a classic Blondie album.

 
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