Review Summary: Rebel music with training wheels.
At what point does blatant posturing and grasping for “authenticity” becoming an overwhelming distraction to the matter at hand? The answer varies from case to case, and in the instance of the debut album by The Pretty Reckless you get to see the precipice without tipping over, because this is one occasion where a desperate search for credibility is softened by the enjoyable pop rock buttress it rides in on.
Ostensibly a four piece the reality of the situation is all ears and indeed eyes will be cast to the front women, the Gossip Girl starring Taylor Momsen. Known to prance around the stage in various stages of undress while cultivating a rebel image which would likely only fool impressionable 16 year old boys, it’s a grating attempt at manipulation that carries the unmistakable aura of the gagafication of mainstream music.
Why should this matter you ask? Indeed it’s a good question, why indeed if the hooks and crunching guitars are delivered as well as you get here should a little dash of fakery ruin proceedings? Well the answer lies in each individual listener. If you are a raging Anti-Flag devotee then nothing this group produces will diminish the acidic bile that rises from your throat so it’s best to just avoid this altogether in the interests of your own health. If you are one of those people who like to intersperse Opeth marathons with some Bitch Alert , L7 or Courtney Love rambling then you should find a lot of enjoy here.
Well I’ve managed to go 3 whole paragraph’s without actually touching the music so I guess I’d better. You like that Hole album Celebrity Skin? Want something that follows it to a letter outside of aspects I’ll mention below? Yes? That’s great, buy this album and enjoy it because Celebrity Skin’s younger more angst ridden sister is what you’ll get. Right from the southern swamp rock infused opening track “My Medicine” the album sets out its stall; Momsen has edgy issues and demands you take note. If you manage to avoid the distraction that it sounds like a neutered track from the second Down record you’ll enjoy it, if not then sucks for you I guess. The whole album is full of these oh so familiar moments, The main riff of Goin Down which is lifted wholesale from the Ash song "Orpheus", the Don Mclean infused "Nothing Left to Lose", the 80s hair metal recall of "Factory Girl" and of course the whole celebrity skin undercurrent which can be found everywhere else, it’s an album full of ghosts and influences badly hidden. The guy's in the backing section meanwhile do their jobs with competent aplomb. The Bass led "Since Your Gone" and the title track allow them moments to push forward for attention (Momsen's slightly gravelly vocals do dominate proceedings overall) and they get the job done. Nothing amazing but its all without fault.
It really sounds like a negative review but in the end the whole shiny package works on a base level. Its derivative, devoid of anything original to say and oh so clearly trying to trying to be something it’s not. But it’s also catchy, easy to digest and with songs like the irresistible “Make Me Want to Die” and acoustic lovers lament closer “You” very hard to dismiss overall.
It’s an album you’ll throw on, enjoy for a short while and then likely set aside with fond memories and in the end that’s no bad thing.