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Panic of Girls
Blondie Panic of Girls
Released 27 May 2011

Jeff Saltzman,
Kato Khandwala
Label EMI
Length 42:33
Genre New wave, post-punk
Website www.blondie.net

Panic of Girls is the ninth studio album from ‘80s New Wavers Blondie, and their first since 2003. While Debbie Harry’s hair may have lost its distinctive blonde colour over the last twenty years, Blondie as a band haven’t changed that much. The first half of this album could easily have been a feature of the music charts at pretty much any point during the ‘80s, in particular the single 'Mother' –a dancy, synth-pop number which is very similar to the sound which originally made Blondie famous. Elsewhere 'What I Heard' and 'Girlie Girlie', were included on a special release of the band's 1978 debut album Parallel Lines, and could well have been on the original without creating a noticeable change in tone. Overall fans are unlikely to be disappointed with Panic of Girls.

From the first half of the album, tracks like 'D-Day' with its upbeat, dance/techno rhythms, and the soft poppish 'What I Heard' keep Panic of Girls grounded in Blondie’s distinctive ‘80s sound. This is far from a bad thing, they sound as good now as they did then, but it does get a bit repetitive.

Things do improve a bit in the second half of the album. This is where Blondie finally stop relying on a tried and tested method and move into a bit of musical experimentation. 'Words in My Mouth' –an emotional ballad with a strong melody– is knowingly self-referential. The band know that people will measure them on how they have done so far, and this track is probably an attempt to shake this up. This continues with the final two tracks on the album, 'Le Bleu' and 'China Shoes', which are also probably the best.

'Le Bleu' drops the keyboards and synthesisers and replaces them with good use of accordions and trumpets alongside guitar and drums– as well as echoey, dreamy vocals in French. Even with the lyrics in another language, the meaning 'Le Bleu(s)' should be clear enough, and the emotion really comes out here. Likewise 'China Shoes' is another great bluesy track. It keeps up the emotional impact, strong singing and kooky lyrics, which all come together here, and the result is a great song to go out on. The emotional fade out sees Panic of Girls ending on a quiet, subtle note rather than a loud, offensive and shallow one.

- Bernard O’Rourke