Highly anticipated release, Death By Rock And Roll, has been given life into the world by female-led, rock powerhouse The Pretty Reckless. As the band’s fourth full-length album, the tracks cover the weight and heaviness of the last year buried in intensity of classic gritty rock, and haunting vocals. Mourning death, celebrating life, and calling their audience to unite against injustice, Death By Rock And Roll contains the thoughts and feelings of the band– lead vocalist, Taylor Momsen, guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins– after facing hardships over the last four years, their latest album explores the grief while celebrating life as a whole.
Beginning with the title track, the album buries its weight in its seductive sound of heavy electric guitar and sultry vocals. As “Death By Rock And Roll” theatrically enters the center stage, it doesn’t hesitate to break down the subtle context of life in the rock music industry and its challenges. Following, “Only Love Can Save Me,” is a five minute track filled with shredding guitar solos featuring Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil. As instrumentals shriek and wail in the background, Momsen’s gritty, old-in-soul vocals create a unique blend of sound that has become known as their signature sound.
“And So It Went,” follows, featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello. Politically charged from the last year’s events, it makes for a beautiful, angst-charged call-to-action against the injustices in our society. It’s no surprise that “And So It Went” is a heavy-hitter, but this collaboration offers a new range of sound for the band as Morello’s signature guitar pairs with Momsen’s vocals for the ultimate dynamic. In a press release, the vocalist commented, “As a songwriter, I feel like I’m not here to preach. I use music to observe and communicate what I see around me. This song felt like the perfect storm for Tom Morello to join in and rip the sound waves apart with his guitar. It was more than a pleasure having him add his unique and defining sound to the song.”
Up next, “25” is a celebration of Momsen’s first quarter century on earth, while commenting on her challenges as a woman in the music industry. In each verse, she breaks down each year of her life, breaking down her battles throughout the years and how she overcame them despite a rigged system yearning for her failure. The track breaks down her rebellion in a cinematic ballad-like rock anthem. Following, “My Bones,” the first single toward the album, set the scene with Momsen’s heaviest vocals and the most confident release to date. While battling gender disparity, especially in the rock and roll world, the band isn’t afraid to show off their skills and have a little fun in their instrumentals.
“Got So High” changes the album’s tone as not only an acoustic track, but with its emotional message. Finding such a thing as “success,” especially in the entertainment industry, is subjective. While making a living in one’s passions seems to be a primary goal, once that standard is met, often we forget that finding success doesn’t mean finding “happiness” or “contentment.” Success shouldn’t define whether or not we can be happy. Otherwise, when the standards of success are met, we won’t find ourselves desperate to find happiness in other, less healthy methods. “Got So High” is vulnerable in that sense because it breaks these thoughts down.
Next, “Witches Burn,” is a symbol of rebellion against gender norms. Taylor Momsen has faced backlash for the messages in the band’s music, and many challenges against fitting standards in the industry. This track points the middle finger against her haters and embraces her differences in full; for the dark, seductive, and sultry rock goddess that she is. Following, another acoustic track, “Standing At The Wall,” shares the burdens in her vulnerability in pouring out her soul in her words. With catchy and alluring power chords, it alludes to the sound of some of her past hits while breaking down the pain in loss and finding footing in the world.
Starting with a unique old-rock-and-roll intro, “Turning Gold,” then shares some poetic, concrete images in self- discovery and feeling empowerment through finding one’s identity and self-discovery with a simple chorus. Next, “Rock And Roll Heaven,” is another theatrical anthem with a sincere message of pursuing passion in the music world and the sacrifices made along the way. Then, concluding the album, “Harley Darling,” begins with a harmonica solo, then breaks down into a lullaby of love with a country soul about death and coping with loss.
Overall, Death By Rock And Roll, is a strong album with an ambition for a timeless and classic rock soul. It is available now on all streaming platforms.