The Pretty Reckless, ‘Who You Selling For’ – Album Review
When The Pretty Reckless emerged on the scene in 2010, their music was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that frontwoman Taylor Momsen was one of the stars of the hit TV series Gossip Girl. By 2014, the show was in the rearview mirror and the band's second album Going To Hell gave notice that they were a group to be reckoned with. It debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned three chart-topping mainstream rock singles.
That brings us to The Pretty Reckless’ latest album, Who You Selling For. It continues the maturation of their sound, delivering a varied batch of memorable songs. As to what the album title signifies, Momsen says, “For me, it’s a question that challenges what I’m doing with my life. It questions the meaning of my actions whatever they are. It also defines the record in a grander way by asking the listener to look into the meaning of each song past the obvious.”
The album begins on a subdued note with “The Walls Are Closing In -- Hangman,” which starts with piano and vocals before kicking into a mid-tempo stomp. “Oh My God” is one of the album’s heaviest tracks (along with “Living in the Storm”) with driving riffs and a potent low end.
Time will tell if this album has as many hit singles as their previous release, but it already has one. “Take Me Down” is an instantly memorable song with a singalong chorus that has climbed into the Top 5 of the rock singles chart.
There are a lot of bluesy moments on the album, such as “Back to the River” and “Already Dead.” Even though she’s still only 23-years-old, Momsen has a world-weary voice perfect for that style. On mellower songs like the title track and “Bedroom Window” her voice has more of a Sheryl Crow sound.
In addition to the lineup of Momsen, guitarist/co-songwriter Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins, there are several guest musicians on the album. They include guitarists Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers, Gov't Mule) and Tommy Byrnes (Billy Joel) and keyboardist Andy Burton (John Mayer, Ian Hunter).
Backing vocalists Janice Pendarvis (Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sting), Jenny Douglas-Foote (Pink, Lenny Kravitz) and Sophia Ramos (Rod Stewart, Jefferson Starship) also appear on the disc. Those backing vocalists are most evident on “Wild City,” which has a retro vibe and a tasty guitar solo and the upbeat closer “Mad Love.”
With too many hard rock bands sounding sterile and calculated, it makes the rawness, emotion and originality of Who You Selling For stand out even more.
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