The Pretty Reckless just dropped their latest album, Death By Rock and Roll, on Feb 12th. This is their first album since 2016âs, Who You Selling For. The Pretty Reckless are Taylor Momsen (Vocals), Ben Phillips (Guitar), Jamie Perkins (drums), and Mark Damon (bass). Recording for the album began in late 2018 and continued for more than a year. The album was co-produced by Phillips, Momsen, and Jonathan Wyman.
âWe lived this. Rock and roll means everything to us. Taylor sacrificed everything for this record. I think it shows.â – Ben Phillips
My main love is concert photography.Â However, with the pandemic cancelling most of the concerts since the spring of 2020, I have focused my activities on writing more music articles.Â This has caused me listen to a wider variety of musical genres and artists. A band I recently discovered was The Pretty Reckless. When the bandâs latest album was announced in November, I jumped at the opportunity to review it.Â It took me over a week to write this review because there is so much going on with this album. Each song has it’s own story that could easily fill an entire review. This made it difficult to determine where to focus, so I tried to capture the overall mood supported by the lyrics and storylines combined with some background.
Certain life events like suffering the loss of a loved one can have a major impact on oneâs psyche. Everyone has their own way of dealing with loss. When I lost my father, I became distant and withdrawn. I kept everything inside, with no way to express how I felt. The Pretty Reckless suffered the loss of two friends, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and longtime producer Kato Khandwala. Music was the bands way of dealing with these losses. âIt sent us into a downward spiralâ Phillips reflects, âWe fell apart. It turned into a world of depression and substance abuse. At that point, we had to try and figure out how to continue making music. It was either death or go forward.â Taylor exclaims âThere was no way to hide from this. There was no running from what happened. I didnât have to âwriteâ it; it was just infused into what weâre doingâ.
Death By Rock and Roll is not a bright, uplifting album. It is an emotional, powerful album filled with reflection, despair, anger, and soul searching. Being a rock star comes with both blessings and curses. There is a long history of rock stars who died way too early. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Marvin Gaye, John Lennon to name a few. The deaths of Cornell and Khandwala influenced the mood and storylines of the songs.
The title track âDeath By Rock and Rollâ is littered with death from various means including suicide, murder, and accidents. Talking about the song Momsen says âItâs not a morbid song. Itâs,Â âIâm going to live my way; Iâm going out my wayâ. Thatâs the rock and roll ethic. Itâs empowering.â While it may no be morbid, it is on the darker side and sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Momsen explores her own mortality on two songs. â25â was written as she was just turning twenty-five years of age.Â It tracks her lifeâs progression year by year reflecting on key moments. These are years evolving from happiness to hope to despair.Â Questioning whether she was going to survive. Her vocals are haunting, being both powerful and mesmerizing. Â In âRock and Roll Heavenâ, she sings about an infamous milestone, the 27 Club. Â In his song âHey Hey, My Myâ, Neil Young wrote âitâs better to burn out than to fade awayâ. Countless musicians including Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27. Â Momsen sings about living fast, hoping to make it to twenty-seven before she dies.Â
The Beatles are one of Momsenâs biggest musical influences.Â This could be heard throughout the album.Â âStanding at the Wallâ starts off as a slow acoustic song with occasional rhythms similar to the Beatles âNo Replyâ. During a brief interlude in â25â when she reaches her teen years, the tone brightens, and tempo increases with a McCartney like piano bit. Another influence on Momsen is Pink Floyd.Â âAnd So It Wentâ is a hard driving anti-authority song. It features guitar work from Rage Against the Machineâs Tom Morello, who was also member of Audioslave with Chris Cornell. A group of children from the Maine Academy of Modern Music were enlisted to sing alongside Momsen on the last two choruses. The chants from the child chorus were reminiscent of those from the Islington Green School choir who sang on Pink Floydâs âAnother Brick in the Wallâ. Â
This album is so strong from top to bottom that it is hard to single out one song as a favorite. However, the last track, âHarley Darlingâ, stands out the most to me. This is not a song you would expect to hear from The Pretty Reckless. It sounds like a 70âs country rock tune by a band like the Eagles. Momsen brings your eyes to the verge of tears with this touching tribute to her friend Kato Khandwala. Harley takes away a friend leaving her alone again which is referring to the motorcycle accident that took the life of Khandwala.
Death By Rock And Roll may go down as the definitive Pretty Reckless album and is sure to become a classic. The band dealt with tragedy and pain by creating a musical masterpiece filled with rock anthems and poignant ballads which featured powerful and hypnotic vocals by Momsen. The band took their songwriting to a whole new level. Speaking about the album she says âWe stuck to our ethics,â she concludes. âWe built this up over time. Either you throw it all away or go for it. Itâs clichÃ©, but rock and roll saved our lives.â
It is only February, but Death By Rock And Roll by The Pretty Reckless is my early favorite for album of the year.Â They have set the bar high for other bands and artists.Â During an interview with People Magazine Taylor Momsen stated that The Beatles are her favorite band of all time. Iâll have to agree with her on this. However, after this album The Pretty Reckless have leaped toward the top of my favorite band list. Â Â
- Death By Rock And Roll
- Only Love Can Save Me
- And So It Went
- My Bones
- Got So High
- Witches Burn
- Standing At The Wall
- Turning Gold
- Rock And Roll Heaven
- Harley Darling
What do think about Death By Rock Rock and Roll? Comment below.
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The post Album Review: With Death By Rock And Roll, The Pretty Reckless Take It to a Whole New Level appeared first on Concert Crap.