With five years since their last LP and faced with the passing of long-time producer Kato Khandwala, The Pretty Reckless have returned with ‘Death By Rock And Roll’.
Thick grooves signal the start of the pumping title-track, before giving way to a swinging verse led by vocalist Taylor Momsen‘s commanding performance. Alternating between thick guitars, kick heavy drum beats, and sing-along hooks, The Pretty Reckless kick their fourth record off with a confident display of their blend of post-grunge and hard rock.
‘Only Love Can Save Me Now’ sees guitarist Ben Phillips and Momsen marry droning riffs with stadium ready hooks to great effect. With both this and follow-up ‘And So It Went’ both containing appearances from members of Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine respectively, the quartet retain their own sound on both tracks whilst drawing influences from two distinct sets of players.
Taking a step back from the driving guitars of the first half of the record, ’25’ takes a more sparse approach, allowing Momsen‘s vocals to drive the track forward. With climbing guitars, sneaking melodies, and dynamic vocal delivery, it serve as a definite highlight.
‘Got So High’ and ‘Broomsticks’ inject Brit pop and experimental pop into their sound respectively. With the former embracing acoustic guitars and sparse leads, the track swims towards vocal harmonies and simple yet effective hooks.
Following up from the swaggering ‘Witches Burn’, ‘Standing At The Wall’ continues to display a more vulnerable and intimate version of the quartet. Opting for a southern rock route to bring the energy back up, ‘Turning Gold’ moves from moments of stillness and driving guitars with a smooth ease.
Closing with ‘Harley Darling’, The Pretty Reckless deliver a tribute to Khandwala. Filled with gliding guitars, acoustic driven verses, and working with a traditional structure, the track concludes the record in an unexpected fashion.
An album of two distinct halves, ‘Death By Rock And Roll’ sees The Pretty Reckless refine their blend of hard rock but also move towards a different sound. Tightly structured and boasting a wide range of influences throughout, ‘Death By Rock And Roll’ is a welcome return for the quartet.