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.

Pretenders

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

Christopher Long is a celebrated author, entertainment writer, TV / radio contributor, award-winning musician, popular speaker and international missionary. Referred to once as "the rock and roll Erma Bombeck," Long is known for his conversational, common sense writing style and possessing a passion for sharing his unique perspectives on pop culture, faith and politics. Raised in Missouri's rugged Ozark Mountains and on Florida's sunny Space Coast, Long currently lives near Cocoa Beach. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)