Sunday, February 15, 2009



Guitar tone that leaps out of the speakers, solid songs with sympathetic backing and one ex music writer with soul. All are present and accounted for on "Pretenders". Another late 70's last stab at breathing life into rock that is consistently brilliant from the time "Precious" kicks down the door until "Mystery Achievement" fades into the west.

Chrissie Hynde asserts herself with a distinctive vocal delivery and an attitude that is demonstrated simply by crafting edgy, melodic music. There is none of the fatuous posing of latter day lightweights (Pink and Avril Lavigne) here.

I keep this record is in fairly constant rotation, as it remains fresh after so many years. "Up the Neck" packs an album's worth of ideas into one tune. Light distortion colors the dentist drill opening riff which then shifts gears into glorious sounding arpeggios before changing yet again. Effort is made to hold your attention.

Energetic punkish outings like "Tatooed Love Boys" and "Precious" sit comfortably next to radio ready fare like "Brass In Pocket" and "Kid" which is one of my favorites from this stellar set. There wouldn't be a crisis in the music business if artists were releasing consistent, top quality product.

Special mention goes to the three players who pooled their talents to sonically elevate these offerings. James Honeyman Scott's guitar textures are an indispensable part of the soundscape. He also co-wrote "Space Invader" and "Brass in Pocket". Pete Farndon and Martin Chambers anchored a muscular, yet flexible rhythm section. Sadly, both Scott and Farndon became drug casulaties in the early 80's. Their input would be missed after the second album.

Expert production from Chris Thomas sands off rough edges, yet maintains a feel that accentuates the strengths of this talented quartet.

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