I was really prepared not to like Going to Hell from THE PRETTY RECKLESS. Not because the first two songs I heard were bad, quite the opposite. It’s just that I was left very unimpressed by their live gig here in Dallas last fall so I couldn’t help but wonder if they were a one-album wonder, since Light Me Up was terrific. Maybe it was just an off night, who knows? Every artist has them. I’m glad that I’ve been proven wrong here, though, because this new album burns with a fire that a lot of the band’s contemporaries couldn’t muster with ten bags of Kingsford and some lighter fluid.
We start off with a Taylor Momsen orgasm that takes us right into “Follow Me Down”, a rocker that goes acoustic and bluesy on the hooks, drops out for a minute, and then rises back up in a flash. Momsen’s voice is big, real big here. Jeezus H, I didn’t see that coming! Right outta the gate the band is kicking doors in and continues to do so with leadoff single “Going to Hell”, another high-octane rager. Clearly there’s some fucking attitude on this record and two songs in I’m loving it. Latest video/satellite radio hit “Heaven Knows” is all at once sexy, scary, and seductive, with a driving heat behind the rhythm and an evil army of kids on the hook. This one burrowed into my brain like an earthworm and hasn’t left since I picked up my copy. I put this song right up there with “Light Me Up” on the debut record as a favorite.
Next thing I know this hypnotic and beautiful number “House On a Hill” comes out of my speakers and I’m completely entranced. Not that she was bad before, but Momsen takes her vocals to an otherworldly place on this one. She sounds world weary and longing and it’s very easy to forget that she is only 20. “Sweet Things” is anything but with a driving riff and scary voices in the background and “Absolution” has distorted, jangly, garage-like guitars and is another shining moment on the album. The same can be said for “Blame Me” with a sound that would be equally at home on MTV in the 80’s as it is in today’s climate. The benchmark of any good band is whether or not the songs stay with you. And these do, believe me they do.
Two pretty little ditties, “Burn” and “Dear Sister” are brief respites from all the banging and clanging. “Burn” is another testament to just how powerful Momsen’s voice is, especially when it’s just her and an acoustic guitar. The sneer is back though for “Fucked Up World” which I absolutely loved. It’s got shades of 80’s rock meets 90’s alternative and just mashes the two in a blender to glorious results. The temptress in Taylor is back for the verses on “Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party” while the chorus is all bombast. Closing things out is another acoustic tune “Waiting for a Friend” that is very much like the post-coital bliss you feel after you’ve just been good and fucked by your lover for an hour. That’s what Taylor Momsen and THE PRETTY RECKLESS do to you across twelve tracks and they’re NOT gentle about it. Drink plenty of fluids after this one!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM