Review - The Pretty Reckless "Death By Rock and Roll"
The Pretty Reckless to someone who may only catch the radio rock singles, seem like a one trick pony who managed to create and mold a formula. Create a song with a good hook in the main riff, an overly catchy chorus, and Taylor Momsen's distinct singing. Just look at the likes of "Heaven Knows" from the bands 2014 breakout hit, Going To Hell. The Pretty Reckless followed this formula leading up to Death By Rock and Roll with the title and opening track to the album. Highly infectious, you'll find yourself singing along in no time, but to someone who may only know the radio singles, it's easy to see how The Pretty Reckless may only release one kind of song.
This assumption could not be more wrong though. Momsen embodies every part of the true rock spirit that Fergie was hoping to cash in on collaborating with Slash. "And So It Went" for instance is not only a stomping hard rock song, but it features one of the strongest displays of instrumentals on Death By Rock and Roll. Ben Phillips on guitar lays down some beefy riffs, while bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins hold down the rhythm section with ease. On top of all of this, the song features a distinct guitar solo from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave guitarist, Tom Morello.
It's not all sex, drugs, and rock 'n' Roll though, with "25" The Pretty Reckless slow the pace of the album down to a grinding halt. A ballad full of thought and emotion, it's a passionate listen, but probably most surprising is the seemingly random section that sounds heavily influenced by the likes of The Beatles. After "25" it's right back up to speed though, as "My Bones" and "Witches Burn" pick up right where "And So It Went" left off with stomping, southern groove leaden riffs and a commanding vocal prowess.
Death By Rock and Roll rings out with an homage to the greats in "Rock and Roll Heaven". Paying tribute to the discovery of rock, listening to The Doors, and eventually joining the 27 club. Just a side note, Taylor Momsen is currently 27 so, you know, please don't do that. The Pretty Reckless couldn't end the record on a low note though, the final track "Harley Darling", is a classic country rock sounding song. As Momsen sings her way through "oh, Harvey darling, you took my friend", it's hard not to feel the emotion and weight of the vocals through this mostly simple song. It's recently been revealed the emotional baggage Momsen has been carrying around following her friends death in a motorcycle accident, and that pain comes across in troves in "Harley Darling".
Front to back, it's hard to find a band that is more rock and roll than The Pretty Reckless. Death By Rock and Roll is nothing but a massive homage to the fact that this band lives and breathes the rock and roll ethos. With clean and precise production, keeping everything distinguishable, it's no wonder why The Pretty Reckless, and Taylor Momsen are pseudonymous with modern rock.