The Pretty Reckless – Going To Hell (Album Review)

pretty reckless going to hell TNFirst things first, I wouldn’t even be writing this review if it wasn’t for the generosity of fellow Why So Blu reviewer Gerard Iribe.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was a brisk March morning in Austin, TX, the 18th of the month, and Gerard texted me a snapshot of the vinyl album cover he just received via Amazon Prime.  And yes, for anyone that noticed, I did say vinyl album cover.  You know those bulky Frisbee-like discs your parents (if your my age) used to rock back in the days?  Well anyway, let’s just say the picture of the dust jacket that housed the round platter had me at the tri-tone text chime.  Holy Frankenstein its alive!  If The Pretty Reckless accomplishes nothing the rest of this year, the album artwork alone is a divisional conference clincher.  Thankfully, the buck doesn’t stop there.  Oh no!  Taylor Momsen and her boys mean business and are in my opinion a force to be reckoned with in the rock world.  Come on.  I’ll show you around because we’re all “Going to Hell” anyway.

So as I was saying, yes I owe the pleasure of writing this review all to Gerard Iribe.  I have heard and listened to a few Pretty Reckless tracks before, but what also caught my beautiful, radiant blue eyes on that ooh la la album cover text image was a sticker that read something to the effect that there was a download code inside redeemable for the full-length album on the mp3 format.  Knowing that Gerard was never going to utilize that code that was good enough for me.  That was all the ammo I needed to grow a set and selfishly ask him if I could have his redemption code.  Coincidentally, since he bought the vinyl album on Amazon he also received the mp3 album via AutoRip, so needless to say he was unselfishly happy to spread the infectious grooves and vibes with me absolutely free of charge.  To this day, I still owe him a million thanks, but more about that below.  We have an album to cover here!

Going to Hell is The Pretty Reckless’ sophomore follow-up to 2010’s Light Me Up.  Between the years the band put out a song here and there (“Hit Me Like A Man” and “Kill Me” come to mind), but nothing full-length until last month.  I guess you can say this sequel was a long time coming.  And from one rock music fan to another I can personally guarantee you Going to Hell was worth the long wait.  After formerly proclaiming my love and affinity (here, here, here and here) for a famous hip-shaking Colombian that rocked my world for years now, Shakira can move the hell out of the way.  There’s a new blonde in my life!  Her name is Taylor Momsen and she writes her own songs.  Hello world.

Taylor Momsen

I think it goes without saying, the former Gossip Girl actress-turned-rocker definitely has all the goods in all the right places as revealed in Going to Hell‘s album artwork (perfect symmetry) and in the recently released “Heaven Knows” music video here, but can she sing?  Oh God yeah!  I guess her voice can be described as a little punk rock (since we share similar influences such as Kurt Cobain), but what it all boils down to is the fact that she’s all soul.  The 20-year old belts out tunes with commandeering confidence most adults my age never ever learn to quite master.  Meet the Stevie Nicks of the 21st century folks.  I was amazed at not only the production quality of this album upon first listen, but of the lungs Taylor has under her delicate pasty, white chest.  This girl can really belt a tune!  I hesitate to go as far as to compare her to legends like Janis Joplin, Robert Plant or others, but think the former thin rails of Christina Aguilera and her amazing, phosphorus (an essential component of living systems and is found in nervous tissue, bones and cell protoplasm) voice.

So today we’re going to focus on and critically talk about March 18th’s Going to Hell album release, namely seven songs off of it.  I know I’m a little late to the party here, but believe me if you work as hard as I do in life, you would bestow upon me a reprieve.  I’m quite sure about that.  However, I digress.  Depending upon what version of the album you bring home, Going to Hell features a total of 12 songs, two of which clock in under two minutes so I’m not sure whether you really want to include them or not.  So right off the bat you know this album’s not batting a thousand.  But let’s take a step back real quick as I want to share my thoughts on the group’s first effort, Light Me Up, in 2010.  I just want to chime in and let y’all know that I’m not completely biased here as I do have issues with that release.  There are standouts like “Make Me Wanna Die,” “Just Tonight” and “Zombie,” but for the most part they sound like they are trying to hard to emulate and top Mrs. Kroeger (aka Avril Lavigne).  I can honestly say that’s not the case with Going to Hell.  The album’s in a whole other league of its own, playing-wise, and because of that it’s the reason why I’m even taking time out of my busy life to chat about it today.

As I alluded to above, in my opinion, there are a total of seven songs I would highly recommend downloading if you are the kind of person that likes to buy songs individually.  However, at the time of this writing, the entire mp3 Going to Hell album is conveniently priced at only $6.99 over at Amazon here, with two acoustic bonus tracks of “Going to Hell” and “Sweet Things.”  That’s quite a bargain!  However, once again, I digress.  I want to focus the remainder of this review on discussing the following seven tracks that touched me and spoke to me the most on Going to Hell: “Follow Me Down,” “Going to Hell,” “Heaven Knows,” “House on a Hill,” “Sweet Things,” “Absolution” and “Blame Me.”  Now that’s not to say I don’t find the other five tracks conversation worthy, but in my opinion the seven aforementioned ones are the heavy hitters that keep me in the game here and are serious heavyweight contenders in the world of rock.  So let’s get started!

Taylor Momsen Pretty RecklessGoing to Hell gets an aggressive, instant head start with the hard-hitting “Follow Me Down,” which is why I hesitated to compare Taylor to Janis up above, but I can’t help it how this track bounces back and forth from in-your-face to a melodic, bluesy soul crunching undertone.  From the very first listen, Taylor will indeed lure you down to the river where she’ll be waiting to capture your attention for the remainder of the album’s runtime with her seductive vocals and the group’s underlining, infectious rhythm section that I’ll appropriately refer to as the weapon arsenal behind her.  Right after all this we’re all “Going to Hell,” but I mean that in a very good way.  The title track, which has caused quite a stir in the religious community, makes sinning so much fun.  Now don’t take me literally.  I’m not telling everyone to go out there and sin.  Treat people how you would want to be treated and all that other bullsh1t.  I’m just saying Taylor accepts and acknowledges all her sins here and knows she’s going to hell.  Isn’t it better to be self aware than ignorant?  I think so!  Not since the advent of Drowning Pool’s Sinner has the subject of sinning been so fun to tackle in a song, in my opinion.  It’s edgy, brutal and beautiful all wrapped up into one.  Heck, I guess Taylor can actually be described that way too.  But wait!  There’s more!  There’s the new single released this past February, “Heaven Knows.”  It’s a killer music video (a real visual treat), but quite honestly, words escape me on how to accurately describe the vibe of this one.  Perhaps it can be accurately painted as a little Pink Floyd with the chanting children crossbred with some classic Stone Temple Pilot like interludes.  How does that sound?  And that’s just the first one-fourth of this LP!  Believe it or not, things get better as we move along.  Speaking of moving along…

We’re about to talk about one of the most beautiful selections I have had the pleasure of stumbling upon in a long long time in the world of music despite it’s dark tone.  And Taylor doesn’t know this yet, until she reads this now, but this song is the foundation and motivation behind a feature-length Hollywood screenplay my business partner are putting the finishing touches on and we’ll be calling upon Taylor to come out of retirement to tackle the starring role in this thrilling revenge picture.  She and this song are the missing ingredients we have been searching desperately for until she and her music found us last month.  Of course I am talking about track number four off of Going to Hell, “House on a Hill,” which you can listen to it in its entirety here.  Mark my words you will hear this song on the big screen one fine day as we cut to black and the credits begin to roll.  It will be perfect, but I digress for the time being.  There are a lot of all-star tracks on this album, but none can match the emotional presence of this haunting yet very elegant and beautiful musical masterpiece here.  I just can’t say enough good things about it and this song alone inspired me to sit down over the past couple days and craft this review if for nothing else to thank Taylor for her inspiration she provided me with this track.  It’s been on repeat most days for over a month now.

Hot on the heels of “House on a Hill” is the track I consider second best off the album, “Sweet Things.”  “Evil…knocking at your door.  Evil…making me its whore.”  Those are the opening lyrics Taylor hits you with as soon as the flood gates are lifted here and just when you think you know where this track is headed you don’t know sh1t because things get real down and dirty here before they hit you with a pretty fancy change up, one that I initially didn’t see coming, and get this, dual-part harmonies take center stage where you swear you can hear the voice of an angel in Miss Momsen.  However, don’t fret all you hard rockers!  Things get very muddy and aggressive here again.  But rest assured, the beautiful two-part harmonies will return and swallow you whole.  It’s quite a unique piece that can only be describe as thirst quenching and/or a breath of fresh air because like Arby’s, different is good, and we all want “Sweet Things” in life don’t we?  Of course we do!  “Sweet Things” will have you singing along instantly and if you are obsessed with this track like me you’ll even say “take it Taylor” when lead guitarist Ben Phillips perfectly sets up her angel-like moments in the spotlight.

The last two tracks I want to call to your attention and tackle here are “Absolution” and “Blame Me.”  All I know is after my very first listen to “Absolution” I know I absolutely needed it and hell yeah I wanted to be saved.  Here’s another track where Taylor shows off her Kurt Cobain-like honed skills as she bounces back-and-forth between edgy and angelic in her vocal delivery.  It’s not reckless at all to me.  It’s more like a pretty trap.  I’m stuck in it!  And last but definitely not least, I want to blame Taylor for everything in “Blame Me.”  After all, it’s her fault that I love this album so much, right?  Things slow down a little bit here, but that’s okay.  It’s a perfect twangy listen on an otherwise average Texan day.  She still has her edgy attitude, but things are a little more constrained here.  And why shouldn’t they be?  She acknowledges it’s all her fault.  So yeah!  Blame it all on her!

Taylor Momsen The Pretty Reckless

In conclusion, I guess what I find so hard to believe other than the fact of how much I really dig Going to Hell is how mature Taylor Momsen comes across and the presence/weight she carries despite her light 108-pound frame.  Singer, songwriter and even former actress, there’s no telling what Taylor can accomplish in her life.  The sky’s truly the limit for this burning bright, young talent.  She seems unstoppable thus far.  I’m “pretty” sure we can even expect bigger and bolder things to evolve and come from The Pretty Reckless, but for the calendar year of 2014, I don’t see any of my favorite musical acts coming close to tackling my number one seed, Going to Hell.  If I could only make one request, I would ask that The Pretty Reckless come and play a show down in Austin, TX this year.  After all, it’s supposed to be the live music capital of the world, right?  Prove it!  And while you’e down here, Taylor, we can talk business about your future starring role in our very successful box-office revenge thriller.  Sound like a plan?  Grand!  I’m looking forward to it.  In the mean time much luck and continued success to Taylor, Ben, Mark and Jamie of The Pretty Reckless as they relentlessly spread the gospel of Going to Hell on the road this year.  The religious fanatics are going to love them!  And most of all, Taylor and gang, thanks for blessing this fanboy with an album of the year caliber release full of hard rocking, shocking and diverse and sexually charged persona and charm.

If you like what you read up above, please help support our site by bringing The Pretty Reckless’ Going to Hell home today via mp3 or CD by clicking here or below.  Thank you for reading and your continued patronage!

Pretty Reckless Going To Hell Album Cover



Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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