First New Album Since 2008 Produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach!
Thirty six years after Pretenders' first album, their new record Alone could be the older, wiser, badder sister to their exhilarating debut. It's that good. "It's a riot," announces Chrissie Hynde, "I am blown away myself. I really am...I don't know how we achieved it but it sounds classic. I guess the team just went out and scored some goals." The team, approvingly described by Hynde as "real people playing real instruments," features Johnny Cash's former bass player Dave Roe and country rocker Kenny Vaughan on guitar plus sundry members of Dan Auerbach's side project The Arcs: Richard Swift on drums, Leon Michels on keyboards, and Russ Pahl providing sly curlicues of pedal steel. Auerbach stood as captain, producer, multi-instrumentalist and the album was mixed by Tchad Blake, whom Hynde says "makes cool stuff sound even better."
It has been time well spent because these songs are special. The title track "Alone" is a superbly spiky take on the joys of solitude. While Alone is unique in its outlook, and deliciously defiant in execution, the most immediately arresting lyric on the album is the open-a-vein honesty of "I Hate Myself." Meanwhile, "The Man You Are" – ostensibly a simple love song – expresses a distinct distaste for money worshippers. Romantic resignation also runs through the album like a river, in ballads such as the wistful "Blue Eyed Sky" and the aching "One More Day." Even the softly-crooned "Roadie Man" is wreathed in yearning. Hynde's famously acerbic side is well served by the pounding, impatient "Gotta Wait" and the dumped and indignant "Chord Lord."
The sole songwriting collaboration on Alone is with contemporary hit-makers Amanda Ghost and Dave McCracken, a seductive entreaty called "Let's Get Lost." Meanwhile, Duane Eddy features on "Never Be Together," where the twangtastic 78 year old's elegant contribution poignantly complements the album's beguiling glow of vintage valves and shadowy mystery. And "Death Is Not Enough," written by Marek Rymaszewski, is a show stopper in every sense.