Having formed in 2007, New-York hard-rockers The Pretty Reckless released their second record, Going To Hell, on March 18th this year. Five years on from the release of their debut, Light Me Up, 20-year-old Taylor Momsen, originally of Gossip Girl fame, has grown up substantially and the bands’ sound has matured. Regardless of this, Going To Hell doesn’t seem to have had quite the impact that their debut had at the time of release. In 2009, Light Me Up enjoyed large amounts of airplay and popular attention, including on stations such as BBC Radio One. The album, which included tracks such as ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ and ‘Miss Nothing’, is certainly a tough act to follow. So the question remains, why has their second album not had quite as much attention. Truthfully, Going To Hell is simply not as strong an album on first listen, but regardless of this, the band have musically done themselves justice.
The record kicks off with ‘Follow Me Down’, a strong track that sets the album off to a good start, followed then by the first and second single releases ‘Going To Hell’ and ‘Heaven Knows’ – well-written, punchy and also catchy rock songs, typical of The Pretty Reckless. They are possibly two of the strongest points of the album. As time has passed, Taylor’s voice, which has always been a talking point due to its power and individuality, has developed even further. Other memorable tracks include ‘Absolution’, ‘Sweet Things’ and ‘House on a Hill’ which add even more strength to the album. Such songs are what The Pretty Reckless are all about – serious and fun simultaneously, and not to mention incredibly well-written. They’re certainly producing a few amazing tracks.
Unfortunately, Going To Hell doesn’t seem to offer quite so many strong tracks as the previous album did. The let-down lies in one too many ballad-like, slower interlude-tracks, which although lovely, can become boring and slightly repetitive. Undoubtedly lyrically poignant and vocally strong, tracks such as ‘Dear Sister’, ‘Burn’ and ‘Waiting for a Friend’ are good, but they seem to decrease the tempo of the album slightly too often, reducing the overall impact. This kind of track is often not what people are expecting from The Pretty Reckless. Having said that, personal taste obviously plays a huge role here.
As current fans will probably know, the band are fantastic live – offering up a tonne of energy and performing with great prowess. For the most part this is unmistakably replicated in Going To Hell, which is what makes the best tracks on the album so good. Whilst it may not be quite as musically strong as Light Me Up on first listen, I wouldn’t write it off immediately – it isn’t too far off their debut in quality and it is certainly a grower. After a few listens it will seem just as fantastic.
One thing’s for certain with Taylor Momsen, she may be a controversial character, but love her or hate her, you will notice The Pretty Reckless… and once you do you’ll realise that their music actually has substance. Going To Hell does nothing less than cement that fact.
Going To Hell is out now on Razor & Tie