To not only survive, but actually thrive in the ever-competitive, oft-cutthroat music biz for any extended period (especially 40 years), an artist requires the freedom to spread their creative wings and experiment a bit now and again. But, for fervent longtime followers, it’s noticed and applauded when a beloved artist remains relevant, while also recognizing and embracing their established brand — delivering fresh, yet familiar-feeling records. This spot-on observation points precisely to where celebrated singer/songwriter/guitarist Chrissie Hynde resides currently with Hate for Sale — the latest collection from her iconic combo, Pretenders.
Produced by Stephen Street (Smiths, Cranberries), the record is a raucous romp — owning a fistful of sparkly new selections — ten concise collabs between Hynde and perennial guitarist, James Walbourne. Clocking in at just a smidge over 30 minutes, it darts into the darkened alley with the stealth-like skill of an experienced “family” member — then makes the hit and escapes into the night, long before the feds can be phoned.
Packed with precious appeal, the corrugated title track makes for a convincing opener, while “The Buzz” sizzles with Hynde’s signature sultry allure. Nick Wilkinson’s sneaky bassline further enhances the song’s “Kid”-sized swagger. Another of the record’s many money shots, “Lightning Man” is a spliff-inspired standout, spewing a slew of stylistic sentimental gestures.
Driven by Martin Chambers’ crisp marching band cadence, “Turf Accountant Daddy” is urgent and street-smart — scuffed-up and gritty. In a 2020 interview, Hynde revealed, “I think this is my favorite song on the album.”
Despite being known for her hard-core posturing, Hynde arguably is most effective when dropping her guard and allowing herself to be vulnerable — particularly through a heartfelt ballad. In that regard, the autobiographic, “You Can’t Hurt a Fool” is a huge highlight. “The ‘fool’ is me,” Hynde confessed recently.
An irresistible op-ed, “Junkie Walk” hooks ya up with an infectious robotic riff and reels ya in with a hypnotic Saturday morning melody. “Junkies have this certain walk,” Hynde has stated. “Head down, hands in pockets, and fast, because they’re going to score.” A fabulous fender-bender at the intersection of “Hand Jive” Avenue and “Faith” Street (catty-corner from the gospel club), “Didn’t Want to Be This Lonely” also makes for a magically delicious moment.
There’s this thing Hynde does really well — when she strips off her Tonka-tough shell and transforms into a transparent “Everywoman.” Hence, “Crying in Public” is possibly the shiniest gem of this enticing treasure trove. Crying in public’s an unfortunate thing. But a woman in love is a delicate thing — insightful poetry, for sure. Then she drops a doozie — Feminists claim that we’re all the same. But I don’t know a man who’s felt the same shame. Simply put, this one’s so powerful, it might make you feel forever young.
Truth be told, it’s painful to witness a once-formidable quarterback slogging through the league, one season too many past his prime. However, with Hate for Sale, the Pretenders still prove impressive — throwing spectacular Montana-era spirals with amazing Mahomes-caliber style.
Hate for Sale Track Listing:
1. Hate for Sale (2:31)
2. The Buzz (3:51)
3. Lightning Man (2:57)
4. Turf Accountant Daddy (3:06)
5. You Can’t Hurt a Fool (3:20)
6. I Did Not Know When to Stop (2:24)
7. Maybe Love is in NYC (3:26)
8. Junkie Walk (2:45)
9. Didn’t Want to be this Lonely (2:57)
10. Crying in Public (3:18)
Run Time: 30:35
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Record Label: BMG