On February 12, 2021, five years after their last work, the new album of the group The Pretty Reckless was finally released, published by Fearless Records. The name of the record comes from one of the songs from which it is composed: Death by Rock and Roll.
A battle cry
During these long years of silence, The Pretty Reckless was held back by two serious griefs: Chris Cornell’s suicide, which occurred during a tour in which The Pretty Reckless opened the concerts; the death of their producer, Kato Khandwala, following a motorcycle accident.
This difficult period led the band’s lead singer, Taylor Momsen, down the rough and painful path of depression. And it was Rock and Roll that saved her, as she declares. “There’s a lot of dark and heavy themes of this record just due to circumstance”, explains Momsen for the UK site NME. “I see it as a very hopeful record. Death By Rock And Roll’ the song, might sound very morbid and very dark due to the title alone; but that line, death by rock and roll” was something that Kato used to say all the time. It was an ethic and a lifestyle code.”
We could therefore define this album as a battle cry for life; the proof that suffering must be channeled so that it can be fought. It is part of our wealth of emotions and often puts us to the test, but with courage, we can challenge it, and come out stronger.
Death by Rock and Roll is composed of 12 tracks. The first is the song that binds the entire album and gives rise to the title. The lyrics of this particularly obscure single rides the perfect wave of instruments, in a well-balanced symbiosis of rock and roll, with a cadence that reminded me of the rhythm of country music. I enjoyed the not-too-long electric guitar solo.
The album continues with Only Love Can Save Me Now, in which Taylor Momsen’s powerful voice takes on low and shady nuances, and then climbs to higher peaks with the chorus; and continues with And So It Went, produced in collaboration with Tom Morello, in which I perceived the crackle of the explosive spark that has always belonged to The Pretty Reckless.
25 is the center of the whole album, the most painful song, in which all the pain of Taylor Momsen comes to the surface; the song in which she lays bare, and seems almost fragile, yet strong in her fragility. It fanned out a spectrum of feelings, which mixes the music and falls on every single word. Also worth seeing is the music video, very well done, which reflects the melancholy of the text.
The energetic rhythm of My bones is what I liked the most, with a very tribal background effect that turns into rock, followed by I Got So High, more melodic and with a cleaner guitar tone. Also in this last song, Momsen seems to reveal something of herself, of how sometimes climbing higher means at the same time not reaching anything.
Broomsticks serves as an interlude to introduce the second part of the disc, and in particular to introduce Witches Burn, in which the magic of the night seems to be consumed in rock. Standing at the Wall and Rock and Roll Heaven resume a milder rhythm, to return to climb with Turning Gold.
The album closes with Harley Darling, a true homage to classic rock, written in honor of Kato Khandwala, about his accident. Once again strong feelings and emotionally important passages are brought into play.
With this album The Pretty Reckless are back on the scene, transporting us on a swing of rock songs, from the most classic to the hardest. Their style has become more melancholy but also harder, more serious. Once again they amaze their fans, leaving a very personal mark.
We all learn to challenge life, to live it our way, following what is important to us. We are made of precious moments, let’s not waste them and fight our battles with unsheathed claws.