Artist: The Pretty Reckless
Title: Death By Rock And Roll
Genre: Hard Rock / Post-Grunge
Release Date: 12th February 2021
Label: Century Media Records
With only twelve years of existence, THE PRETTY RECKLESS already have three albums and two EPs to their name. Their name recognition has grown thanks to tours with heavyweights like MARILYN MANSON, EVANESCENCE and GUNS’N’ROSES (just to name a few). In 2017, while the quartet was on the road with SOUNDGARDEN, an initial shock hit singer and guitarist Taylor Momsen and her three bandmates. One evening in May, singer and accordionist Chris Cornell ended his life after a concert. Deeply scarred, the band admits to having been heartbroken by this tragic and unexpected death. Almost a year later, the Grim Reaper hit the combo again with the death of their producer Kato Khandwala (PAPA ROACH, BREAKING BENJAMIN...) at the age of 47 - in a motorbike accident.
At the beginning of 2021, the New York band reported back with a fourth work bearing the meaningful name ‘Death By Rock And Roll’. To say that fans’ anticipation was high for the 2016 follow-up to ‘Who You Selling For’ is an understatement. Released in mid-2020, the first single from it (the eponymous track dedicated to the late producer) became their first Top 5 track in Billboard’s Mainstream Rock.
And exactly this song is the opener of the new work. In an interview, the 27-year-old says that the steps heard at the beginning of the title track are those of Kato Khandwala. This song opens the whole album with the calm and later explosive voice of the ex-actress Momsen. A great tribute to her friends but also to all those who died in the “Rock’n’Roll life”. ‘Only Love Can Save Me Now’ is driven by the strong tempo of guest Matt Cameron (SOUNDGARDEN) on drums, while Kim Thayil (SOUNDGARDEN), adds his special touch on guitar with a great solo. The heavy side is reminiscent of the time when grunge changed music. A beautiful tribute to the band’s late friend Chris Cornell, recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, the mythical place where PEARL JAM’s ‘Ten’ or SOUNDGARDEN’s ‘Louder Than Love’ were made.
It’s no secret that children’s choirs always work well, at least since PINK FLOYD’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’, and so they do with ‘And So It Went’ (with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE’s Tom Morello) - with success. The chorus stays in your head and after about a minute the song settles down. Quite different from what you know the band and especially their front woman, ‘25’ can impress very elegantly, both in the video and musically. An ethereal, haunting track, carried by Momsen’s beautiful voice. It is said to be a sombre throwback to the infamous 27 Club. Momsen confirmed in an interview that she wrote the song when she was 25, and admitted that she probably wouldn’t belong to that exclusive club.
Hypnotic drums in the intro of ‘My Bones’, a more progressive track with a passage where Momsen sings like Blondie before finding her angry vocals. ‘Got So High’ is a slow, soulful ballad and feels more like filler, although Taylor Momsen shows her vulnerability here. The forty seconds of ‘Broomsticks’, which resembles a childish nursery rhyme, are used as a transition to introduce ‘Witches Burn’. The latter addresses the witch trials that may have taken place centuries ago, but the effects of misguided beliefs and patriarchal rule are sadly still relevant today, all with grunge-tinged riffs. ‘Standing At The Wall’, on the other hand, is again a beautiful, soulful ballad. Beautifully backed with orchestra. ‘Turning Gold’, with an intro carried by a bass pulse and Taylor Momsen’s voice, is a track that builds to a powerful level. It creates an atmosphere that keeps the listener engaged. A big Rock’n’Roll anthem that we dream of hearing in big halls, with fans taking it to their hearts.... but only after the pandemic.
‘Rock and Roll Heaven’ has some echoes of country rock like Sheryl Crow or Melissa Etheridge. Another new facet of Miss Momsen. Surprise with ‘Harley Darling’, influenced by country rock in the style of THE EAGLES. The song is again written for Khandwala, who died on a Harley Davidson in 2018. Momsen puts her heart into this song as she sings about a Harley taking her to California to see her friend one last time.
THE PRETTY RECKLESS have by no means put a bad album on the market. On the contrary, it is technically a very good work and can be listened to. Unfortunately, the power that one feels at the beginning of the album is lost towards the end. However, this is not a bad thing, as the band shows a whole emotional side here and share their experiences with death. The death of Khandwala and Cornell hit the band in a very sensitive way and this album reflects that. Those who have a soft core as well as a hard shell will be satisfied anyway and will like the album.
01. Death by Rock and Roll
02. Only Love Can Save Me Now (feat. Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil)
03. And So It Went (feat. Tom Morello)
05. My Bones
06. Got So High
08. Witches Burn
09. Standing at the Wall
10. Turning Gold
11. Rock and Roll Heaven
12. Harley Darling
Taylor Momsen – Vocals, Guitar
Ben Philips – Guitar
Mark Damon – Bass
Jamie Perkins – Drums
Total: 8 / 10