Trying to switch from acting to music is never an easy transition and we imagine front-woman of The Pretty Reckless Taylor Momsen knows that better than anyone. The once sweet little girl from The Grinch who went on to play fan-favourite Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl left behind her acting career to focus on her real love; music. With her band The Pretty Reckless, Momsen has had to work hard to be taken seriously and the effort seems to have paid off with the band’s album Light Me Up being well-received critically and commercially.
Three and a half years on from that album The Pretty Reckless has switched labels and released second album Going To Hell. The band’s relentless touring and dedication to their music is clearly paying off as the album debuted in the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course the hard work and success hasn’t silenced all of the critics who are quick to dismiss Momsen and her band but that doesn’t seem to be deterring them in the slightest.
Going To Hell moves away from the poppier feel of debut album Light Me Up and moves further into the hard rock category. The band has been criticised for not doing anything particularly original on this record but we’re more than happy to argue with the naysayers. Going To Hell opens up with the raucous Follow Me Down which starts with a porn sample before guitars rip the melody to pieces and Momsen’s distinctive vocal takes centre-stage. The track succeeds in grabbing your attention and honestly the album doesn’t let up from that point.
What makes The Pretty Reckless special in our opinion is Momsen’s ability to use her voice in a variety of ways. She can do the rock screaming required of the genre but it’s actually her quieter moments that really shine. The near acoustic sound of House on a Hill is one of the strongest moments on the record as it allows the music to speak for itself without trying too hard to shock you. Similarly album closer Waiting For A Friend almost veers into country/folk territory and it shows a different side to Momsen’s vocals.
There is much fun to be had throughout Going To Hell though. Why’d You Bring A Shotgun To The Party is a balls-out rock number that you can imagine Momsen relishing during a live set, the title track mixes a bit of religious controversy and Heaven Knows employs a stomping beat and a chant-a-long chorus that ensures it doesn’t fall out of your head. The fast-paced, beat-laden Sweet Things is a definite highlight as Momsen puts in a more-restrained vocal before letting rip in the song’s second half.
Going To Hell is a strong second album from The Pretty Reckless. The music snobs will have their say and pick apart every aspect of the album purely because of who the band’s frontwoman is. We say The Pretty Reckless are pretty special and we hope that Momsen continues on her quest to become the first lady of modern rock. She’s certainly got the talent, the vocals and the attitude to pull it off.