Losing my sense of taste – There is an air of darkened intent and menace ‘Losing MY Sense Of Taste’. Hynde sounds fantastic as she leads the band into this wonderfully sounding rocker. As the subtle melody unfolds behind a wall of guitar noise as the solo howls with delight as every ounce of emotion is rinsed out of the fretboard. Hyde has hit paydirt finding James walbourne who has tone and a swagger that is instantly likeable and has a style that makes the guitar sing in whatever mood he so wishes.
‘A love’ begins with that jangly chorus laden guitar that is something of a Pretenders / Hynde trademark but yet again the standout feature of the track is the mix – it sounds huge. Excellent guitar pop.
On ‘Domestic Silence’ with its slow groove steeped in controlled overdrive gives the song an air of a well-oiled group locking in on each other, that small club tour they undertook to break these songs in as a unit was a masterstroke. This album sounds like a band, and not a solo Hynde project with hired top-tier session players which it could have sounded also co-writing with Walbourne is a winning team. Again the solo is exceptional as Walbourne delivers with feeling and some.
‘The Copa’ kind drifts Into the promise of love with its melancholy piano sounding like a late night in a smoky hotel lobby after one too many cigarettes and cognacs. The vocal is spot on here and Hynde is peeling back the years sounding as good as twenty years ago.
Side one taps out with ‘Merry Widow’ and another smokey slow number takes center stage. I think three in a row is a bit much as good as they are individually back to back they would have benefitted from being broken up with a more uptempo rocker. Even if the oriental drifting works well. It’s the guitar tone that pulls the end of side one through.
‘Let The Sun Come In’ is more on it, with a quality mid tempo feel and guitar lick lapping round the lips of a really good deep album cut. I like how the chorus soars. Next ‘Look Away’- is a melancholy acoustic pick through a sparse arrangement. Works well with the minimal percussion shaking it up from being just another slow album track it has room to breathe. The theme continues as ‘Your House Is On Fire’ continues with the laid back ambience a more relaxed Pretenders record than the last one but no lesser quality album. ‘Just let It Go’, another bordering on balladeering but is a fuller more traditional slow dive.
Hynde and James work really well together and their songwriting is in sync showcasing a unique voice that is instantly recognisable and can pull through a less than excellent song and with the addition of some superb guitar work throughout the record it’s a really good listen.
‘Vainhlorious’ is exactly what I was looking for as the album heads towards its conclusion, Turn the amps up and let’s play some loud rock n roll because when this band goes for it they can rock out with the best of them.
The record closes out with the beautiful ‘I Think About You Daily’ with strings arranged by the Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood on what is a perfect album full stop with some great arrangment of the finely balanced strings for the pick of the slow songs on offer. Very decent album yet again from The Pretenders who show no sign in giving up their craft just taking it to different destinations along the rocky road.
Author: Dom Daley