It's hard not to hear the title of Blondie's new album, "The Curse of Blondie," as a nod to the difficult task the band faces of trying to show up the youngsters currently cribbing the punk and dance music that Blondie originated in the '70s. They mostly dodge the problem, showing off their masterful blend of tough, post-punk guitars with bright, dreamy dance beats and electronic effects. And while it's hard not to long for the ferocity that imbued even their most syrupy disco-laced songs in their early days, the album does what their first reunion album, 1999's "No Exit," couldn't manage to do: expand their classic sound with greater sophistication and style. Debbie Harry is still the tough downtown broad with the golden voice, which sounds supple and full of the same flirty coyness that has long been her trademark. "Background Melody (The Only One)" has a cool, easy mood, thanks to an infectious, slow-grooving beat, over which Harry's little-girl vocals glide along on soaring strings. "Magic (Asadoya Yunta)" crafts a stripped-down dance song from an Asian-infused chant and spacey guitar. And a tougher rock sound infuses "Diamond Bridge," which is thickly layered with sawing guitar and a stuttering beat. Perhaps the curse of the title is more apt as a warning to the bands now following in Blondie's footsteps: This old guardian of new wave is up to its musical voodoo again.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.