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ATP! Album Review: The Pretty Reckless - Going To Hell

There are certain things some of us do in life in spite of the fact that they may not be "cool." Rocking scene kid style post-2008, playing Bingo and liking reality TV, to name but a few. As of right now, we’re adding "listening to The Pretty Reckless" to that list.

Whilst it’s not quite to everyone’s taste, Going To Hell, the second studio offering from the band headed up by the aforementioned Momsen is actually pretty good. Admittedly, there are a few hurdles that you might find yourself having to forgive – we’ll get them over with first. Opener "Follow Me Down" begins with something that sounds surreptitiously like simulated sex. Okay, we’ll level with you. There’s nothing surreptitious this – it just blatantly is. We shouldn’t be surprised, and it’s not that we’re offended, either. If the intention is to shock (which, let’s face it, with a band like this – it very much is), then they’re going about it the right way. But throw sacrilegious lyrics into the mix throughout, and it seems awkwardly like a desperate attempt to win over new fans with outlandish displays of so-called rebellion. The problem with this is that despite the media’s obsession with the younger generation enjoying such quirky displays (see the UK version of Skins for all you’ll ever need to reference on that issue), in all honesty, it can get a little tired.

In spite of these potential shortcomings, this 12-track record holds some powerful moments which add to their trademark grunge sound. There’s something intoxicating about the fast paced riffs laced with Momsen’s own seductive brand of sleaze. Title track Going To Hell deserves a particular mention, simply for its ability to embody the themes of the album as a whole. As its namesake might suggest, it toys heavily with religious imagery, but in a cleverly crafted manner complete with an impressive guitar solo. It’s a confident launch into other stand out tracks, like "Heaven Knows" (complete with its gang vocals).

It’s an album which will confirm any and all suspicions that ‘Little J,’ Momsen’s alter-ego from the teen drama Gossip Girl is now well and truly dead. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t moments where her raw, often snarling vocals aren’t tested with something altogether more vulnerable. It’s a test she passes on "Dear Sister," giving credibility to a band who at times threaten to undermine their own genuine talent with controversy.

Music is art, and The Pretty Reckless definitely do not deserve to be slammed for freedom of expression. They put on a show, and it seems like a pretty fun one too. Combined with their genuine talent, this is band who have promise beyond expectations - perhaps even their own. Sometimes edgy is good; sometimes it can be almost cringe-worthy. Whilst previously mentioned elements of this record don’t necessarily take anything away from the music, they don’t add much, either. It might be judgmental, but there are certain gimmicks that serious music fans will have difficulty accepting, which is a shame because they're talented enough without them. But if you’re prepared to be open minded on this one, then you might find your next guilty pleasure.


Claire Louise Sheridan

Going to Hell is released on March 18th via Razor & Tie (US), Universal (Canada) and Cooking Vinyl (UK/EU).

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