‘One of the Strongest Musical Releases of This Year so Far’: A Review of The Pretty Reckless’ Death By Rock And Roll

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The Pretty Reckless' latest album is nothing short of rock n' roll perfection, blending aspects of the old and the new to create one killer record.

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Having formed in 2009, American rockers The Pretty Reckless have three solid studio albums to their name already, yet its their latest release Death By Rock and Roll (2020) that stands out amongst their ever-growing discography. The band’s second studio album, Going to Hell (2014), is arguably their most notable, but with a clearer voice and perfected sound – Death By Rock and Roll has to be one of the strongest musical releases of this year so far.

Starting off with a bang is the title track ‘Death By Rock and Roll’, reminding us all of just how incredible lead singer Taylor Momsen‘s voice is and how The Pretty Reckless manage to make their tracks hit that metal vibe in the most captivating way. Not only is the track catchy, but the guitar riffs from Ben Phillips build-up to the monumental chorus make it hit so hard every time. I desperately wish I could see this track live, you can picture the scenes; the fire, the smoke and the mosh pits that would ensue as rock and roll are embodied to perfection. The closing line summarises the album from the outset – “And on my tombstone when I go, just put ‘death by rock and roll'”.

The second track of the album shows the bands connections in the music scene with features from Pearl Jam‘s Matt Cameron and Soundgarden‘s Kim Thayil. Bringing old-school rockers into the mix heightens the album’s intention; showcasing the strength and power of rock and roll in the lives of those living it. ‘Only Love Can Save Me Now’ is a dramatic track, starting off slow but building to a peak of musical genius, as Momsen’s lyricism and strong vocals emphasise the stunning talent of Cameron and Thayil. ‘And So It Went’, which features the brilliant Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine notability, follows as a track that blends the heavy-metal vibes of The Pretty Reckless with the dramatic tensions of Momsen’s softer tones. There’s even a chant section in the song, something which gets me every time and truly embodies the interactive nature of rock and roll.

’25’ and ‘Turning Gold’ are much smoother tracks, with almost pop-driven backing acoustics. ’25’ feels like an ode to music that breaks Death by Rock and Roll into two neat halves of excitement and emotion. ‘Turning Gold’ holds value as a Southern-America vibe rock song, with clear influences from rockers such as Black Stone Cherry amongst many more. It’s a brilliant tune to just vibe out to, without even needing to love that heavy rock sound as it plays upon its melodic nature more. ‘Rock and Roll Heaven’ is the most relaxing of the tracks, with lyrics that reminisce of the nostalgia of falling in love with music as a young child; stealing albums from your parents to play in your room, learning what bands and tracks you love the most.

Death By Rock and Roll takes Momsen and the rest of the bands love for rock and roll and cranks it up to eleven. Rock and roll is explored from the heart, through the wonderous sound of heavy metal riffs and acoustic melodies that showcase the talent of The Pretty Reckless. The album is captivating from beginning to end. I hope one day I get the chance to catch some of these tracks live, as I can guarantee the crowd would be bashing along to these tunes like there’s no tomorrow!

Death By Rock and Roll is available to listen to now via Goin’ Down Inc. Check out ‘And So It Went’ down below.

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third-year film student & records/live exec 20/21

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