When she was new wave's reigning pinup, frontwoman Deborah Harry was spicing up Blondie's pop with dashes of disco, hip-hop, and calypso. Her solo career, which began with 1981's R&B-touched KooKoo, has been no less chameleon-like.
Necessary Evil, Harry's sixth album, is reminiscent of early Blondie. The singer basically nixes the techno-pop heard on her later discs in favor of crunchy rock. With her music losing none of its cartoonish appeal, Harry delivers the edgy "Whiteout" with cheeky impudence and punctuates the thundering "You're Too Hot" with hysterical screeching.
When she takes a breather, Harry's ballads are entrancing. Witness the vulnerable and questioning "What Is Love," as well as "Paradise," which she delivers with such languid ennui that you'd never guess Harry was singing from the perspective of a female suicide bomber.
When Harry strays from her punk/ new wave roots, her music loses its strength. By adhering to Blondie's early formula, she has found her greatest inspiration.