album review: going to hell, the pretty reckless
If you know Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl but aren’t familiar with The Pretty Reckless, you might be surprised to know that it’s her voice you’re hearing when you press play. She is often compared to Courtney Love, perhaps because she’s a blonde with feisty vocals and killer stage presence. The Pretty Reckless made a mark on the scene and won an adoring fanbase with their debut album Light Me Up. Parting the sea of mass-produced pop and EDM, the band makes music that reassures you that rock is still alive. With their second album, Going To Hell, The Pretty Reckless shows us exactly how they captivated their audience in the first place.
Reaffirming the album’s title, ‘Heaven Knows’ has Momsen leading a choir singing ‘Oh, lord, heaven knows, we belong way down below’. It’s catchy and would be an excellent gateway track for new listeners, with accessibility present both in the melody and lyrics.
‘Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party?’ is decidedly Marilyn Manson-esque in both sound and subject. Just like Manson’s songs, the crisp guitar work has some serious ear-worm potential. Clearly unimpressed by gun culture, Momsen states ‘Everybody’s got one, there’s nothing new about it’. You could be forgiven for thinking that this song came from somewhere in the early to mid-00s, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant now.
The softer moments on ‘House on a Hill’ and ‘Waiting for a Friend’ provide a break from all the head-banging and toe-tapping, but Momsen’s vocals remain just as strong.
You may view Going To Hell as a guilty pleasure or you may fully embrace it, depending on your musical preference. There’s certainly no lack of angst, which may only appeal to younger listeners. That said, Momsen has a flair for story-telling that won’t go unnoticed by existing fans.
The album probably won’t satisfy everyone and it might not be quite enough to silence the noisy detractors, but one gets the sense that the band don’t really care about that. Fans will be pleased to hear no hint of the band selling out or trying to prove anything. They’ve tailored a sound that fits them well and they don’t appear to be running out of ideas.