It’s been four years since New York alt-metal band The Pretty Reckless blasted onto the music scene with their debut album Light Me Up. Since then, the band have been touring the world, both as headliners and support for bigger acts – most notably Marilyn Manson, Evanescence and, currently, Fall Out Boy. Frontwoman Taylor Momsen has definitely shed her good-girl image of the Gossip Girl and Dr Seuss days, solidifying her place amongst the female-led bands on the increase within the rock scene.
The wait for Going to Hell has definitely not been wasted. The band have obviously had time to develop and work on their own sound, which permeates every track. Although the influence of Evanescence on Momsen’s voice is evident within tracks like ‘House on a Hill’, and there are moments with longer notes when there is a (somewhat surprising!) touch of P!nk-esque drawl, The Pretty Reckless are obviously comfortable and confident with their own music.
The album gets off to a very strong start, with three heavy and powerful tracks after another. ‘Follow Me Down’ and ‘Going to Hell’ are sure to become crowd favourites, with their fast-paced riffs, whereas ‘Heaven Knows’ proves easy to sing along to – its chanting chorus is bound to give this song anthem status with the band’s fans. There’s a welcome change of pace with the fourth song of the album, and Momsen’s vocals are really able to shine, although a slightly stronger chorus would have lifted the song further. The rest of the album maintains a high standard, with a regular shake-up of pace: the shorter songs ‘Burn’ and ‘Dear Sister’ provide the emotional depth that the heavier ‘Absolution’ and ‘Sweet Things’ may be seen to lack. ‘Blame Me’ proves a nice bridge between the polarities.
The two real surprises of the high-standard album come with the final two songs. Riding on the back of an undoubtedly catchier and wannabe rebellious ‘Why’d You Bring a Shot-Gun to the Party?’, the angst-laden ‘Fucked Up World’ is one of the weaker songs of the album, drawing it to a seemingly disappointing close. However, the final song, ‘Waiting for a Friend’, is the shocker of the album. Featuring Momsen’s voice and acoustic instruments, the song is drastically different from the rock-heavy opener – in the best possible way. Here the band displays that their talent is not restricted to one particular style, and it’s nice to hear a more natural side to Momsen’s voice rather than the grunge-like drawl she’s often fond of.