Taylor Momsen may not be one of your favorite people, but whether it’s her attitude or her role on the CW series “Gossip Girl” that bothers you, that’s no reason to completely dismiss her band. The Pretty Reckless’s music, although its a little overwrought with drugs and sexual references, it presents a new and compelling sound.
True, it is hard to look at her music objectively when the bio on her website and various news articles about her consistently have her referring to herself as “true rock ‘n’ roll,” or matching the styles of legends like Kurt Cobain and Led Zeppelin.
The Pretty Reckless is comprised of still-jailbait Momsen, along with Ben Phillips, Mark Damon and Jamie Perkins.
Momsen’s voice is perfectly suited for the type of music she wants to produce. While still sounding young, there is a deeply cynical, throaty feel to her singing voice, somehow managing to growl out the more intense parts of the album. She sings with soul like it’s the only thing she can do.
The Pretty Reckless’s music is good—there’s no denying that fact. Momsen’s trio of dark-haired musicians pound out the rougher tunes, like “My Medicine,” but keep it simple and light to match Momsen’s voice on tracks like “You.”
This is what sets the Pretty Reckless apart. Their songs are catchy, and there is no denying the power of Momsen’s voice.
However, the band’s weakness comes from their lyrics, which simply try too hard—not unlike Momsen herself. Every song tries to prove how hardcore Momsen thinks she is, discussing drug use, overtly sexual references and overwrought phrases of teenage angst. Not paying attention to the lyrics can make the songs sound better, but songs like “Goin’ Down” and “Make Me Wanna Die” are particularly cringe worthy, even if they have great beats and Momsen’s powerful voice.
It’s a pretty heavy negative that is noticeable on most songs, making some of them sound like a teenage girl talking about things she doesn’t actually have that much experience with. The only song with relatively good lyrics is “You,” and that’s only because it feels heartfelt and sounds like something a 17-year-old girl would sing about.
While it’s good that Momsen is no Taylor Swift, she is simply trying too hard to be the anti-Swift, which lessens her music. There is great potential for the Reckless, with Momsen’s powerhouse, rock-suited voice and excellent use of both guitar and bass, but with lyrics this bad it’s hard to focus on the music.
What the Reckless needs is a few years for Momsen to grow into herself and stop trying to constantly be inappropriate. Real talent doesn’t need to be overshadowed with her kind of behavior, which stops the album from being a success.
The Pretty Reckless will be at the Earth House with Runner Runner & A Thousand Horses on Feb. 23. Tickets are $13.