Monday, March 24, 2014

The Pretty Reckless Is Going To Hell

Taylor Momsen
Four years ago, not everyone was convinced that Taylor Momsen could remake herself into a rock star despite a few riveting reviews of her debut. After she hit back, no one ever says that anymore. Now there are plenty of people who want to follow her down.

Despite its boring and unambiguous title, Going To Hell, and relatively explicit but not so erotic cover, The Pretty Reckless have put out a walloping new album for anyone who misses classic anthem rock. From the opening notes to the acoustic retreads that round the album up to 14 tracks, almost everything about this album feels like it could have been cast in the eighties. 

It's fully composed and throaty rock — the kind that many rock bands composed when they had "arrived" and could finally start turning out mature music. And Momsen, who has always come across as an old soul, clearly sees her 20s as the point where she has reached it in her music career. 

Going To Hell is wildly accessible rock, good but none too reckless. 

Although it feels like they've produced considerable more, Going To Hell is only a sophomore outing for The Pretty Reckless. Nonetheless, it will go down as an album fans love and critics question because it turns the burning recklessness of their early work into something much more polished and mainstream. 

Never mind the seriousness of grunge or heady confessionals of indie rock-pop, The Pretty Reckless are clearly aiming at a new generation of troubled teens in need of danceable rock stomps. If there is any other there, it's very clearly a Catholic guilt album that gives permission to give up and have fun. 

Follow Me Down is a heated sexual rebellion song that offers up a pretty blatant message. After nights and nights of putting off whatever was the source of her sexual tension, she gives in and finds out that all her trepidation was for naught. She's not only alive, but also finds sweetness in it. 

The track Going To Hell is equally blatant in its assessment. The riff-laden rocker has Momsen tell it straight. She accepts where she is going for everything she has done. And as it turns out, she is not the only one who thinks so. 

Heaven Knows is one of the best tracks on Going To Hell in that Momsen has never sounded better. She lays out the full range of her vocals with a blues-infused rocker that conveys a glimmer of sadness for everything that it going on in this album. 

Simply put, Heaven Knows is about those above already knowing we won't measure up. It makes them sad. But there is no way to stop it because they belong way down below anyway.

While those opening three are getting all the attention, it's the balladry of House On A Hill, melody of the sweetly short Dear Sister, and casual contemplation of Burn that really make this album. All three tracks demonstrate that Momsen is a serious talent who has only just begun to tap her depth. 

In contrast to some of those sleepers, Why'd You Bring A Shotgun To The Party and Fucked Up World really play to the epic level of commercialization Momsen needs to pay the bills. Those tracks are party rockers like the first three, along with Sweet Things, and will get plenty of play time. There is nothing wrong with that, except they tend to overshadow some of her more subtle contributions like  Waiting For A Friend. 

Going To Hell By The Pretty Reckless Smashes 6.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Fans of The Pretty Reckless will no doubt grow tired of reviews that don't give the same props Momsen received for her debut. There is no way around it. Going To Hell comes off over commercialized because it plays to the audience of popularity despite evidence that Momsen doesn't have to. 

Like most review sites, fans are driving up the ratings on music outlets. Going To Hell by The Pretty Reckless is entrenched with 4.5 stars on iTunes. On Amazon, Going to Hell - Deluxe Edition has received 5 stars. The Pretty Reckless can also be ordered as a CD on Barnes & Noble. See the band's  Facebook page for tour dates.
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