The Pretty Reckless, ‘Death by Rock and Roll’ Review – Track-by-Track Review of New Album

2021-02-10

The Pretty Reckless, black and white promo image. Review: The Pretty Reckless are back with their fourth studio album,

The Pretty Reckless – Review by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo

Review: Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless are back with their new album, “Death by Rock and Roll,” which features the band’s trademark blend of passionate, gritty vocals and retro-sounding instrumentals. Here’s Audio Ink’s track-by-track review of the album.

The Pretty Reckless have revolutionized rock ‘n’ roll in the 21st century with their retro-sounding rock that makes everything classic seem new again. Now, Taylor Momsen (vocals), Ben Phillips (guitar), Jamie Perkins (drums) and Mark Damon (bass) are back with their fourth studio album, “Death by Rock and Roll,” out Friday (Feb. 12) via Fearless Records, and the collection offers that same nostalgic vibe with some extra imagination and experimentation, to boot. Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s track-by-track “Death by Rock and Roll” review.

The Pretty Reckless ‘Death by Rock and Roll’ Review

The Pretty Reckless open “Death by Rock and Roll” with the album’s title track, a gutsy, raw, in-your-face rock song that has Momsen begging, “On my tombstone when I go / Just put ‘Death by Rock and Roll.'” The song – and album, in general – is a tribute to the band’s late producer, Kato Khandwala, who passed away in 2018 and always used to say he wanted “Death by rock and roll” written on his tombstone.

If the title track sets the listener up for the raw vibe of the new album, the subsequent track, “Only Love Can Save Me Now,” continues in that trajectory. The song kicks off a big, screechy, retro-sounding guitar riff and huge rhythms that make the listener instantly pop their heads. Momsen’s vocals are strong and dirty, perfectly fitting the song and album.

“And So It Went” follows, starting off softly only to explode into one of the heaviest songs on the record. The Pretty Reckless take on a frenzied, disorderly energy with “And So It Went,” which makes for a spontaneous-sounding song that’s a fun listen.

One of the earliest tracks released off the album, “25,” follows, and the ballad shows of Momsen’s dramatic vocals. This is one of the most heartfelt songs on the set, as Momsen sings, “At 25, and still alive
Much longer than expected for a man.” The track also has a cool, retro vibe, with swirling harmonies in the bridge.

The album picks back up again with “My Bones,” which features belting vocals and a menacing, driving riff. The song’s bridge is a trippy mix of manic rhythms and guitars, with Momsen begging, “When I was young, I could perfectly see / Now I’m as blind as a girl can be.”

“Got So High” starts with Momsen clearing her throat and launches into a stripped-down, acoustic ballad. With its psychedelic style, this song sounds like it could sit next to Pink Floyd on a playlist.

The 39-second “Broomsticks” provides a quick introduction for the following track, “Witches Brew,” and both songs also carry that classic rock vibe, with a riff that could fit on a Led Zeppelin record. As the song kicks into full gear, “Broomsticks” becomes a meaty, swelling rock anthem with a blues feel.

Fluid piano and Momsen’s vocals take the spotlight on “Standing at the Wall.” With a tuneful melody and pop sensibility, “Standing at the Wall” recalls an Elton John or even Simon & Garfunkel kind of quality.

“Turning Gold” is another big rocker, with an uptempo beat and psychedelic guitar solo. “Rock and Roll Heaven” follows, offering twangy guitars and Momsen, “I sold my car for an old guitar / and set out on the road / My mamm cried as she waved goodbye, praying for my soul.”

Opening with a lonely harmonica, the final track on the album, “Harley Darling,” is another country-tinged, bluesy rock number. The song is an obvious a tribute to the band’s aforementioned late producer, Khandwala, who passed away in a motorcycle accident.

There’s a lot of anticipation behind the release of The Pretty Reckless’ “Death by Rock and Roll,” and with solid songwriting and an earnest delivery, the album delivers. “Death by Rock and Roll” is the kind of record that will be played for generations of rock fans to come.

Ink rating: 9/10. Essential songs: “Death by Rock and Roll,” “Turning Gold,” “25,” “Harley Darling.” For fans of: Grunge-era rock, with raw vocals and production, plus sultry female vocals. Online: ThePrettyReckless.com.

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