The Pretty Reckless have constructed a set of songs that will make you tap your foot, clench your fists, and make you want to punch a nun in the face.
If you’re familiar with The Pretty Reckless and their debut album, Light Me Up, you know just how lethal this band is. They are, arguably, the best new hard rock band to come onto the scene in the past decade (or two), and Going To Hell is confirmation that the hard rock crown is sure to be fitted for the head of Taylor Momsen. Like many of you, I’m completely convinced that there is nobody better than Momsen to front a band. Schooled at an early age on classic rock, this 20-year old singer is perfect for the next generation of hard rock and metal kids. She infuses her classic rock roots with the modern hard rock sounds of today into perfectly written songs that make the listener move and feel. And yes, I called her a singer. Sure, she’s the most delicious looking dish in the hard rock kitchen, but make no mistake, Momsen’s no cream puff. She’s got balls bigger than most fist pumping frontmen out there. The greatest part of Taylor Momsen is that she is the total package - swagger, sexuality, sensitivity, raw reckless abandon, and true grit – and they’re all on vivid display throughout Going To Hell.
Because of the varying styles and the fact that the record isn’t due to hit stores for another month or more at the time of this being published, I’m going to break down each track for you….
1)“Follow Me Down” – In my interview with Taylor, I asked her what song might best represent the sound of The Pretty Reckless, and this is the song she chose. Starting off the record with the sounds of a British police siren and the orgasmic moaning of a young girl, this song does sum it up. The first note that’s sung is one that bites into your flesh like a pit bull, and the swagger and sexuality run rampant as well. “Follow me down to the river. I’ll be down here on my knees” is sung in front of a bashing rhythm courtesy of guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon, and drummer Jamie Perkins. Welcome to The Pretty Reckless.
2)“Going To Hell” – Many of you have heard this track as it has been selling in the tens of thousands on iTunes already, and the wicked video has made it around social media of all kinds.This is just a perfect song. With a riff that makes air guitar rockstars out of all of us, and scorching vocals that will give you chills, this is a hard rock masterpiece.
3)“Heaven Knows” – Another track that you must know by now, as it is also a big seller as an early release from the album.This is the classic hard rock anthem, complete with marching drum beat and gang vocal chanting done in the spirit of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” And, man oh man, this has got to be SO much fun in the live setting! A perfect sing-along concert track.
4)“House On A Hill” – This just might be The Pretty Reckless’ greatest work of art. Momsen turns in one of her best performances on this power ballad. The layered vocal tracks and the orchestration are bundled together in an emotion-driven tune that soars in a dark, sensitive and stirring way.
5)“Sweet Things” – The band has been playing this one in their recent live shows, and it kind of shocks me. This is the tune on the album that took me a few listens to really absorb and fully appreciate. It’s a song that cycles in three different directions. It starts with Ben Phillips’ razor sharp guitar riff and a searing vocal attack by Momsen, then falls into a minor key vocal layering that’s heavily influenced by Alice In Chains. The tune gets really interesting as it slows to a creepy vocal segment from Phillips. “Hey there little girl/Come inside I’ve got some sweet things” is very creepy in a Marilyn Manson kind of way (a really good way!). The song then hands the mic back to Momsen as she does a little girl-type segment that’s almost Beatlesque. A strange song that goes much deeper musically than most, but when you dig for it it pays nice dividends.
6)“Dear Sister” – A little vocal lullaby (which runs about :55) backed by a jangling guitar sound that has a mystical, 60’s psychedelic vibe to it.
7)“Absolution” – This is my favorite track on the album. Taylor just chews this one up.It starts with a quiet and sneaky acoustic riff that creates a galloping groove, and then explodes with Momsen’s rabid bite and the perfect power chord. The song’s chorus falls back into the sleek, sly and steady gallop with Momsen doing a suave and dreamy type of vocal over it. The band then comes out of the choruses to deliver crushing blows again and again. When Taylor delivers the line “Jump into the sun/Dear boy, what are you running from” the chills sprint up and down my spine. Wow.
8)“Blame Me” – This is the simplest and steadiest track on the record. A simple foot tapping drum beat, a strong-but-relaxed vocal part, and a HUGE hook. This is the one that you’ll be singing all day long
9)“Burn” – This acoustic ballad runs just over 90 seconds, and it’s another soaring vocal performance from Momsen. I think the main purpose of this song is to set up one of the heavier songs on the album, though…
10)“Why’d You Bring A Shotgun To The Party” – This one is right out of the Marilyn Manson playbook. With a plodding rhythm similar to Manson’s “Dope Show,” and a sly vocal that creeps like a cat, this is a hard-hitting and fun rocker. This is also where Taylor uses that raw reckless abandon I was talking about earlier. Listen to her reach new heights here.
11)“Fucked Up World” – Okay, this might be my favorite track. This has a Joan Jett “tough bitch” feel to it, but because there’s never been a bitch as badass as Taylor Momsen, this song goes to that next level. If it wasn’t for the vulgarity I would say this could be the next single, but I think radio will shutter at the very title of the song. “It’s a fucked up world what do you get/Sex and love and guns/Light a cigarette” Once you hear this song, these are the words you will be singing everywhere you go, I promise. You’ll sing them out loud, too. Loud and proud.(Note: Listen for the nod to The Who in this song, too. Roger Daltrey’s little “Oh yeah” from “I Can See For Miles” is replicated perfectly in this song. You gotta love it.)
12)“Waiting For A Friend” – What a great way to end one of the best hard rock records in decades – with a song that sounds like it was written on the porch of Willie Nelson’s farmhouse. Momsen is accompanied only by a jangling acoustic guitar and a harmonica, and she makes it all work with her earthy and throaty tone. Her simplistic nature is perfect as she delivers the line “My head is like a prison cell/I’m all by myself/I’m waiting for my friend/ To come and break me out.”
This band has proven that they can write songs and play them with tremendous intensity. Taylor Momsen proves once and for all that she has total control over her voice. She knows the feel and energy of every song and uses the different qualities of her voice accordingly. With her talent as a singer proven, and the fact that she’s hotter than the surface of the sun, I see no reason why The Pretty Reckless won’t conquer the world in 2014.