Review Summary: Blondie end their first era with arguably the most average effort they could have come up with.
Even before listening to The Hunter
, you'll realize this isn't the same Blondie that gave us albums such as Parallel Lines
or Eat to the beat
. With an album cover that features a slightly older, maturer Deborah Harry complete with unmistakeable cheesy 80s hairdo, and who is surrounded by five other men who look as if they can't wait to get on with their own lives, The Hunter
very rarely suggests a band which is at the height of its career. So it probably isn't sheer coincidence then, that the band decided to call it a day after their sixth full length album was released, leaving Deborah Harry to pursue her not-as-successful solo career.
Surprisingly, if you heard Autoamerican
before and liked it, you may just like this album too. Both albums show that the band only ever wanted to experiment with different musical styles as the 80s dawned, yet unfortunately The Hunter
is perhaps the only album which sounds like Blondie running out of creativity or inspiration. Essentially, it isn't a poor album, just a terribly average one. There's barely a hint of fun or forward-thinking musicianship to note here, except for “Danceway”, which wouldn't seem out of place on any of Blondie's first three albums, or “Island of lost souls”, which sounds so upbeat and bouncy it may just be the perfect soundtrack to a luxurious, sunny holiday. The album doesn't give the greatest first impression, given that opener “Orchid club” seems to drag on as time passes very slowly by, and the very disorganized nature of both “Dragonfly” and “Little caesar” only goes to show how much the band may have wanted to get The Hunter
over and done with.
That said, the musicianship and vocals aren't altogether that bad. But, as said before, they are indeed very average, even by Blondie's standards. Harry herself sounds rather content on songs such as “Island of lost souls” and “Danceway”, but elsewhere, as on the very dark “The beast” and pop-by-numbers “Dragonfly”, her voice sounds forced and not as natural as long-time fans of the band had become accustomed to. There are even songs where Harry merely talks throughout, making the likes of “War child” and “For your eyes only” (a song that very nearly made it on to the soundtrack of the James Bond film which takes the same name) drag on even more than is sanely possible for the casual listener. Musically, the rhythm section seems to have taken a step back, but given that The Hunter
was released in the 80s, it is forgivable knowing the circumstances. These circumstances relate to the way in which synthesisers, horns and the band's musical weapon of choice, the saxophone are all used to their full extent. For example, “Island of lost souls” is enriched in jazzy influences, and “The beast” and “Danceway” both make for interesting songs in the end thanks to synthesisers being used in an appropriate way, so as not to make them sound like simplistic, rehashed 80s pop tunes.
All in all, The Hunter
aptly marks the end of Blondie's first era, and though the band had only been together for a mere eight years, they would return in 1997 to show everyone they weren't quite finished yet. Put simply, Blondie's sixth album does the right job in making you think that the band had now run out of steam completely, and instead of splitting up and not producing a half-baked set of songs, they did just that. They may have been confident with what they were doing, but it surely takes some convincing to convert even the most devoted Blondie fan to believing that The Hunter
is anything other than a completely missed opportunity. Make sure you listen to the band's previous five albums before this.