Stockholm by Chrissie Hynde (Album of the Week)

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While I enjoy the music of the band, The Pretenders, I would not classify myself as a huge fan of the band that became iconic when we were in college. Songs like Back on the Chain Gang and Talk of the Town exuded hip and played well on the college scene. Chrissie Hynde -tossled hair, black eyeliner, guitar slung low – was crushed on by many for good reason. She had it going on. And she has that great voice.

Several weeks ago, Dan chose Chrissie’s new solo album as our listening album. Because June had so much going on, our blogging took a hiatus, but now it is time to get back to business. 

There is something about this album that bothers me. That voice is still there. It’s low and powerful, but she can use it well to sound emotions. She said in an interview that I listened to that she quit smoking and that has been protective of her sound. It really is all still there. The other thing that she mentioned in the interview is that she does not believe in love. For someone who doesn’t believe in love, she sure sings a lot about it on this album. Most of the songs on the album are about relationships in some form or another. I think that is what rubs me wrong – and I submit that this may be very unfair of me. I find much of this album incredibly insincere. 

More than anything, this is a pop album. Hynde’s collaborators (in Sweden) are recording artists who I would put into the indie pop rock genre.That style finds its way into this album with songs like “You or No One” and  “You’re the One.” They both have fun hooks and are bouncy. Am I wrong to not feel great about a hooky, bouncy Chrissie Hynde? Chrissie Hynde has had a fascinating life from which to draw upon. I am more eager to listen to that soundtrack than her sounding like a Lana del Ray knock-off when she sings “In the Movies.”

In Dan’s take on the album, he supposes that my indifference to this album is due to my inability to embrace Chrissie’s “black leather snarl.” Nay! I say! I would rather more of that scowl and less of the pop rock formula.

I don’t want to be a complete grouse on this. Songs did stand out for me. One song, Tourniquet (Cynthia Anne) is both very beautiful and very interesting. The sound was different than the rest of the album – quiet, reflective, mysterious. Down the Wrong Way starts out with unmistakable Neil Young guitar riffing and the lyrics are more like a good old-fashioned rock song. More of this, and I would be more on board. Maybe next time.

Next up: Lazaretto by Jack White

lazaretto