Growing old in rock 'n' roll is tricky, especially when you are Blondie, a band with a catalogue defined by youth culture: sleek, sexy, and stylish.
Panic of Girls, the latest record from Blondie, struggles with the contradiction. It's hard to think of singer Debbie Harry, now 66, as the same fiery young woman who sang "Rip Her to Shreds." But on tracks such as the group's cover of Beirut's "Sunday Smile" and "Mother," all you have to do is close your eyes and it's 1978 again. Not that it's the goal of the band, per se.
"Generally, we don't really try to reference the old stuff — with the instrumentation and vocals and stuff," guitarist Chris Stein says. "I don't try to deliberately sound like Blondie. It just happens that way."
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Even if the band isn't focused on the past — and Stein's taste in modern pop such as Katy Perry and Rihanna suggests that's the case — the album's best moment is "Love Doesn't Frighten Me," a surging power-pop blast that features Elliot Easton of the Cars. The record probably won't take over modern radio. ("Everybody in the pop music scene is still all about youth culture," the guitarist says.) But then again, the band's longevity surprises even Stein. "I never gave it a thought. I probably took too much for granted at the time."