LOUDER REVIEWS: ‘Death By Rock and Roll’ - The Pretty Reckless
Never one to tire or produce the expected, the fourth record by hard rock legends, The Pretty Reckless has been highly anticipated since its announcement in February 2020. One year later, after delays due to the pandemic, the album, 'Death By Rock and Roll', has been released and delivered to excited fans and intrigued critics. The first without producer and friend, Kato Khandwala, a lot of the songs were written in his memory, so there is a sense of heaviness attached to the music. But how do the band fair in this outing, compared with the rest of their catalogue and standing out on its own?
An extremely well done job and then some! Not only is it some of the best material that The Pretty Reckless have produced, it is some of the best rock music, period! Kicking things off with the blasting energy of the title track, the song is powerful, hard hitting, and fiery, as well as mixing the punching tone with the melancholic themes, like with the lyric “I wanna go with a shotgun blast, I wanna go with a woman on her back, I wanna go with balls, I won't pray, I wanna go with a spiral in my veins”, showing the love of music and rock that’s fast paced but emotional. 'Only Love Can Save Me Now', with Soundgarden members Matt Cameron and Kim Thayll is beautiful with a sexy smooth guitar riff, oozing into the sound and style easily with the rest of the band, and vocalist Taylor Momson’s voice fits so well with the exquisite, soulful, and hard hitting lyrics. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine features on And So It Went, which comments on the social unrest of recent years, and shows that the band know how to get a crowd going with the gang chant of the chorus, “The world does not belong to you, you are not the king, I am not the fool”, giving so much power to anyone who shouts those words and banding their audience together.
'25' beautifully melancholic about the passage of time throughout the years, very thoughtful about life and everything within it, and the marching drums with symphonic backing really gives the song a grandiose feeling that really shows the strength of the band as musicians and lyricists. 'My Bones' also adds to that grandiose nature with their operatic style that takes the listener on a journey, especially in its fantastic lyrics. This song definitely wouldn’t feel out of place on a Broadway stage, and that is meant in the best possible way. The album takes things slower with 'Get So High', which is stunning to hear, very ethereal and quite heavenly. The lyrics bring on nostalgic memories and starts on that uplifting journey in the album. 'Broomsticks' is a very cute interlude, spooky and fun; it’s worth just buying the album for this track! It does lead into 'Witches Burn', which is reminiscent of early Coven and Black Sabbath in its almost-doom metal style. The vocals are just brilliant, especially with the lyrics “just wait your turn, all witches burn”, bringing that fiery energy that is in all their songs, but is very evident here.
'Standing At The Wall' discusses continuing on when you’re on your own, a very relatable topic after losing someone close to you. It’s melancholic but also adding a sense of hope into the unknown, and full of belief in oneself. It’s sad, but it moves forward, like life itself, and it’s a very mature way to look at situations like this. 'Turning Gold' is another example of poetic lyrics that any listener would love to listen to. The instrumentation in this song is great as well, with a mixture of synths and a sitar giving an underlying layer and bringing forth the richness of the sound. It adds power and shows the musicianship on display.
Speaking of musicianship, if music were a country, 'Rock and Roll Heaven' would be its national anthem. This song is a true ode to music, from The Beatles, to artists like Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, as well as “a garden full of sound”, a reference to one of Taylor Momson’s favourite groups. It’s triumphant in the genre, and proud of the work on display. It’s a stunning song that will be one that goes down in history that everyone will know by heart, like 'American Pie'; this song will have that kind of legacy waiting for it, that’s how fantastic of a song it is. Finally, to wrap up the album, is 'Harley Darling', written as an ode to Kato Khandwala as the band show their pain to the motorcycle that took away their friend. The heartbreak of losing someone is on display, and even though the album has gone through the journey to try and get through the pain this loss caused, this final track showcases that, even after a period of time, losing someone close to you can still hurt and you can still feel anger and grief even after so long. It’s human, relatable, and a fantastic way to close the album.
Overall, this truly is a rare gem in the music world, as it feels like a perfect album. Everything fits into place perfectly musically, lyrically, and in attitude. There’s just something about the band, all the members, Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, Taylor Momson, and Jamie Perkins, really have put their hearts on their sleeve in this outing and delivered a mature album that feels like a proper progression from their previous 3 albums, and is one that will stand out through time. It’s truly one of those albums that can be played again and again throughout the ages and will be remembered and loved. 'Death By Rock and Roll' has brought new life into the rock genre and beyond with its realism and heart, and one that everyone should listen to during their lifetime.
'Death By Rock and Roll' is out on Friday the 12th of February- pre-order the record here:
Check out the video for '25' below: