Sound — 8
Whereas some new wave artists from the 1970s might stomp their feet in protest at the constantly evolving community and ferociously altered music industry, Blondie have more or less accepted these transitions and found a way to work around it. When it came down to the recent release of their tenth studio album "Ghosts of Download," a last minute change was implemented which ultimately had the album being accompanied by a second compilation of new takes on Blondie's seasoned radio hits, titled "Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux."
This appeared to show insight into a Blondie who understands that for artists of their caliber, incorporating your most well known songs is a formidable way to attract the interest and attention of common listeners towards your new material. As far as the performance which is captured on "Ghosts of Download," the band's first studio album in three years shows yet another alternation; Blondie can be found merging the hit-and-miss electronica-heavy approach which previously surfaced on 2011's "Panic of Girls" and first appeared on 2003's "The Curse of Blondie," with the new wave sound of their earlier releases.
The welcoming synthesizer arrangements of "Sugar on the Side" compliment the somewhat weathered vocals of longtime lead singer Debbie Harry, which particularly standout on the song's nostalgia-layered chorus. We soon reach the somewhat faster paced "Rave," a song which boasts a knockout refrain featuring choice lower octave vocals from producer Hector Fonseca and could have found a comfortable home on 1978's "Plastic Letters." A modernized new wave approach is proudly showcased on "A Rose by Any Name," which is centered around infectious vocal melodies between Harry and Beth Ditto. Perhaps where the members of Blondie find a comfortable groove are during the album's mid-tempo selections, such as the complimentary guitar-bolstered "I Screwed Up" and the moderately calypso-flavored "I Want to Drag You Around."
Lyrics — 7
The performance of Debbie Harry throughout Blondie's tenth studio album is admirable. After more than four decades of activity, the fact that Harry can still hit the same soaring vocal harmonies as her earlier years, albeit at times with the aid of modern recording technology, attributes plenty of familiar elements generously found throughout "Ghosts of Download." The sometimes weathered performance previously mentioned isn't so much found throughout the new recordings which appear on Blondie's new studio album, as much as they are apparent on the accompanying set of re-recordings of the band's thirty-odd year old classics.
The lyrical content found during "Ghosts of Download" mainly remain in familiar theme of romantic relationships, either those still surging or those falling apart. Such is evident on the aforementioned "Sugar on the Side," where we find Harry singing the story of an unappreciative significant other. As an example of the lyrics from "Ghosts of Download," here is a verse from "Sugar on the Side": "I left a note on the mirror/ Took the keys to the brand new car/ So don't get mad at me/ 'Cause you know you treat me wrong."
Overall Impression — 8
Blondie implement a strong performance very much in line with what you would expect from the veteran band four decades following their initial formation on their new studio album, "Ghosts of Download." While some selections are very much in line with their earlier efforts, the album includes several songs which showcase a modernized new wave sound that retains enough classic elements to remain familiar enough for dedicated listeners. Especially when opposed to the drastic transition found on their last two efforts, "Ghosts of Download" should easily be able to appeal towards longtime Blondie listeners.