Silly kids, sex is for grandparents, too.
Blondie – Pollinator (Noble ID)
If 27-year-old Taylor and 32-year-old Katy can proclaim sexual maturity as personal liberation, why can’t 72-year-old Debbie Harry? She’s done so since her reign as queen of New York’s infamous New Wave scene. That was when her heart was full of glass. Through four decades it’s become full of passion, romanticism and blood. She isn’t an electro-pop princess anymore. Age has turned her into something better, a real person. An eleventh Blondie album may seem inessential, but these songs represent validation for Boomers and anyone else brave enough to live and love while they still breathe. Co-writers include 25-year-old Charli XCX, 41-year-old Sia and 52-year-old Johnny Marr — whose cynicism delivers the best one-liner in the form of “Human beings are stupid beings when we’re young.” But Harry’s ebullient delivery turns almost every verse and chorus (no matter how lyrically oblique) into a truism at best or a worthwhile melody at worst. Her voice is weathered, yes. But her spirit is mostly jovial and resilient. No wonder the best songs have to do with the bedroom — this is still pop music, ya know. But notice how tender things get on the Gregory Brothers-penned breakup song. Saying goodbye to an old flame hurts, but she knows there’s another day to live tomorrow. Talk about sound judgment. GRADE: A-
Key Tracks: “Already Naked” / “Long Time” / “When I Gave Up On You”
Tom Zé– Cancoes Erotics Para Ninar (Irara, 2016)
This decade has provided a bounty of death records, be it Cash’s ghost or Bowie and Cohen on the cusp of eternity. Pop will always romanticize an old hero who paid their dues (you’re on deck, Randy Newman), but how refreshing it is to hear 81-year-old Tom Zé, a Brazilian romantic who forgoes geriatric meditations for music’s most primal subject: Coitus. The lyrics are in Portuguese, and I can’t find English translations anywhere on the not-so-world-wide-web. But Zé is a utilitarian and makes it easy to decipher the intent behind these erotic lullabies. The opening song is titled “Sexo” and is articulated in a passionate whisper indicative of the dirty deed. Elsewhere, vowels ascend scales to replicate the pleasure of orgasm — a universal language, indeed. This album is playfully dirty, but perverted? Fat chance. Not with music this genial, light-hearted, tuneful and beholden to a patchwork of polyrhythms so infectious only a prude would refuse. No cheap tricks allowed. Lovers only, please. And it’s the music that gets lovers in the door. For Zé’s obvious lyrical intentions, his unbounded libido lives only to serve a series of pulses and beats that refuse to quit. I admire his workmanship and eagerness. Should I reach old age, I hope I’m just as driven. GRADE: A-
Key Tracks: “Descaração Familiar” / “Orgasmo Terceirizado” / “Sobe Ni Mim”