People have accepted that Taylor Momsen is no longer the sweet little girl actress she once was. She's the confident, crazy frontwoman of The Pretty Reckless who have finally solidified their threat. Their third record Who You Selling For makes that threat even more real.
There's a clear progression throughout the band's three records. It started with Light Me Up in 2010, a relatively easily absorbable record with an alternative rock focus to it. Their sophomore record Going To Hell was punk from the start, Momsen baring her bare body right on the cover. The album went more rock n' roll than the previous record, rawer and with more crunch. That leads us to Who You Selling For, which delves even deeper into the rock n' roll sound.
This band seems to work in reverse - their sound becomes more and more archaic and barebones as they release new material, and that's by no means a bad thing. That gives them a raw punch. This record is almost pure rock n' roll, banger 'Oh My God' being the first clear example. Opened by thick, lo-fi guitar riffs, the song's heavy drumming and guitars are backed by Momsen's raspy vocals to make the song sound even more badass. 'Wild City' is similar, the badass, big riffs sounding high when they kick in. The song's pretty stripped down until it climaxes, which provides for some sweet tension. The catchy, gospel harmonies give the track some extra dirt.
The melodies on this album find themselves being pretty barebones, too. There's a lot of southern influence on the record - from the gospel harmonies of 'Wild City' to the cowboy ballad 'Already Dead,' a lot of this record really envelops a desert mood. The slow brush of the acoustic guitar in 'Dead' flows like a desert breeze, walking through a ghost town as Momsen belts raspy with raw passion. There's a folk influence in 'Living In The Storm' despite its upfront and heavy instrumentation. It's a cool, groovy track with an epic bassline, an electrifying guitar solo at its end bringing it even higher. There's something about its melodies that really help it tell a story in the way of a folk track. The seven minute epic 'The Devil's Back' is another southern slow burner, though it takes a more reflective disposition in its vocals, ultimately ending up sounding like if Pink Floyd came from Mississippi.
There's not complete success in the record, though. The rock n' roll vibes get a little much in a few parts of the record. 'Take Me Down' is one example - it's good, old fashioned rock, and I'll give it that, but there's really nothing beyond that. It was a single, so it was good for setting the tone for the record before its release, but in context of the record it's just another track. 'Prisoner' focusses too much on its gimmick, using the slowly march of what I can only assume are prisoners as percussion throughout, making it seem like the entire song was focusses around that and only that. 'Back To The River' has the same issue as 'Take Me Down,' yet it's still passable and enjoyable. It's the title track 'Who You Selling For' that follows that crosses the line that makes it start getting old. Luckily, that's where the album turns to its southern half and things become interesting again.
The Pretty Reckless are getting rawer every record. They have a very genuine sound, as if their souls themselves are messengers of a lost genre. It's not every day you can hear a refreshingly pure rock n' roll record like this one. It's perfect for a long country drive, or perhaps watching a sunset over the Louisiana bayous. Who You Selling For is a very grassroots record, and we'd have it no way less. If it capitalized on different sounds rather than the same one over and over, it'd have been a masterpiece, but it'll have to settle for a good record to just kick back and jam too at the end of a long country day.
Favorite Tracks: Living In The Storm, Wild City, Oh My God, Already Dead
Least Favorite Track: Who You Selling For
Rating: 76 / 100