Love can be Pretty Reckless. You can burn your emotions onto a CD and combine them with a box of roses that includes a store-bought Valentine’s Day card, or you can send a handwritten letter delivered priority mail in a box of dead flowers and a cassette full of go-to-hell-ridden songs that include explosive lyrics. It’s what you make of love, or how you make love.
And so begins the killing upheaval from The Pretty Reckless’ 2021 release, Death By Rock And Roll. It’s a twisted little fairy tale that leaves you gutted, knocked the fuck out, showcasing the punk rock anthem “And So It Went.” Taylor Momsen shoves her point down your throat barking “the world does not belong to you, it belongs to me.” But before you can pick yourself up off the ground, there’s a music box mid-section that winds Taylor up and sends her sliding across the stage congregating with her riot girl choir haunting everything you’ve ever known.
“25” is a stand-alone track destined to be a single with its witchy relic, almost Zeppelin-like orchestration but with a Beatle-esque breakdown at 3:12 trademarking The Pretty Reckless as a contender for the cover of Rolling Stone. After a shift in temperament, “My bones” climbs into a Debbie Harry plight of “Call Me,” but after a drink and a smoke, “Got So High” has a nice nod to Tal Bachman’s “She’s So High” that has a sweeping romanticism leading into “Broomsticks” with its great Sgt Peppers intermission that slides us into a B-side that’s deeply rooted in Los Angeles-based crossover country.
Introducing side B from a gravel driveway accompanied by a coyote call and an old hoot owl, “Standing At The Wall” sinks its ditch snake fangs into your heart and floods your eyes with hopefulness. “Turning Gold” showcases Nashville’s nastiness with a kiss of death by way of Macon, Georgia in lyric “life is an ending starting in the womb, you build a home of brick and mortar and then it is your tomb.” With a massive southern Baptist sing-along, Taylor engulfs you and spews you out in a technicolour yawn leaving us righteous while singing “I can feel the power, I’m turning gold.”
You can’t deny the Miranda Lambert tone in “Rock And Roll Heaven.” “I sold my car for an old guitar and set out on the road. My momma cried as she waved goodbye praying for my soul. In rock and roll heaven the great gig in the sky gotta make it to twenty-seven before I die.” Ms. Momsen we all hope this isn’t prolific as there’s so much more than what you’re asking for, but just like the end to every good movie The Pretty Reckless rides off into the sunset with “Harley Darling” blasting before the credits roll. This song is about as bar room jukebox as you can get. Out on a limb here I think this knocks the snot out of everything sweet Taylor Swift has released. It’s got the grit and grime from the road with last night’s biscuits and gravy hangover. This is a road song and I can’t think of a better way to end an album.
There was a point where The Pretty Reckless shifted gears and I wasn’t keen on their submission, but with Death By Rock And Roll Momsen proves once again she’s the baddest woman in the world, and you find yourself head over heels in love with her once more.
PS: Taylor, the world loves you. XOXO Gossip Girl.
Death By Rock And Roll Track Listing:
1. Death By Rock And Roll
2. Only Love Can Save Me Now (feat. Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil)
3. And So It Went (feat. Tom Morello)
5. My Bones
6. Got So High
8. Witches Burn
9. Standing At The Wall
10. Turning Gold
11. Rock And Roll Heaven
12. Harley Darling
Run Time: 47:82
Release Date: February 12, 2021
Record Label: Fearless Records