Blondie @ Foundry on First

Growing old in rock 'n' roll is one tricky beast, especially when you are Blondie, a band with a catalog defined by youth culture: sleek, sexy, funky, and ever stylish. Panic of Girls, the new record from Blondie, struggles with the contradiction. At 66, it's hard to think of singer Debbie Harry as the same fiery young woman who sang "Rip Her to Shreds," but on tracks like the group's cover of Beirut's "Sunday Smile" and "Mother," all you have to do is close your eyes and it's '78 again. Not that it's the goal of the band, per se. "Generally, we don't really try to reference the old stuff," guitarist Chris Stein says. "It just comes out sounding like us . . . with the instrumentation and vocals and stuff. I don't try to deliberately sound like Blondie; it just happens that way." Even if the band isn't focused on the past — and Stein's taste in modern pop like Katy Perry and Rihanna suggests that's the case — the record'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," Stein 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."


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