While setting out to repeat their collaborative approach on Parallel Lines, Blondie and producer Mike Chapman misplaced the band's whimsy and failed to match that album's consistent delights. Gone are the smiling young jokers in their new wave suits, replaced here by solemn adults, posed like fashion models and photographed in soft sepia by the period cliché Norman Seeff. Gone too are joyous explosions like "One Way or Another" and "I'm Gonna Love You Too." Instead, the program features "Die Young Stay Pretty," "Living in the Real World" and "The Hardest Part," a poorly-sung and incoherent tale of armed robbery set, in part, to funk copied from David Bowie's "Fashion."
To be fair, the group coasts through the album ably, and the loss of innocence is far from fatal. Many of the band's virtues (chief among them Deborah Harry's fluty voice and Clem Burke's stupendous drumming) are used to great effect in the hook-filled "Dreaming," "Union City Blue," the Motown-styled "Slow Motion" and the fidgety "Accidents Never Happen." But the attempts at seriousness here compromise the band's exhilarating essence. And while the group can be forgiven for transplanting the sound of "Heart of Glass" into the single "Atomic," they really should have done more with the lyrics. "Your hair is beautiful/ Oh tonight/ Atomic" is an insult to the insouciant wit of "Once had a love and it was a gas/ Soon turned out to be a pain in the ass."