JAM Magazine CD Review

June , 2011
Review by Roy Turner

The Pretty Reckless

"Light Me Up"

Label: Interscope Records

I’m sure the marketing team at Interscope or whatever vision Jimmy Iovine had for this project is responsible for the consistent ill-advised choice of this records’ first three singles, but it effectively buries, what is an otherwise, devastating blast of pure rock fury.

Here is what you know:
The band is lead by Taylor Momsen, who is the singer and certainly the face of the band, but you know her as the 17-year-old chick from teen-soap Gossip Girl  who’s character went from super sweet to super bad and this record is probably just an extension of that show/character and frankly your really sick of teen, female actress, makes record, nobody cares, goes back to acting.

The album’s first three singles and videos – Makes me Wanna Die, Miss Nothing,  and Just Tonight, don’t do much in the way to stray from that philosophy other than to add that she is trying waaay too hard(as teens/first-timers are prone to do) and that Courtney Love fetish you heard about is not too far off.

Here is what you don’t know:
There are at least five other tracks on this record that freaking kill.

The first track My Medicine will take you totally off guard and sets the tone for the rest of the album. You weren’t expecting it to start with an exhalation of a finished cigarette from what sounds like a veteran rawker, and this thick, bluesy rasp to appear and be so powerful.

The next track, Since Your Gone, abandons the generic formula of those dreaded singles and is straight up Joan Jett mean. I mean fucking nasty with great lyrics:

Since you hide, since you steal
Since you hate everything I feel
Since you cheat, since you lie
Since you don't wanna try things I wanna try

The title track Light Me Up slows things down a bit, but maintains that same intensity. Its chorus is a bit overglossed, but the intent is so raw and honest that it can’t hide its sincerity and more great lyrics:

I've got it on my mind to change my ways
But I don't think I can be anything other than me

There's plenty of light to go around
Do you think it's right when you hit me to the ground?
Well, light me up when I'm down

The track Factory Girl is the perfect mix of why this record works so well. Bullshit alt-radio will dig the singles, The Hot Topic crowd will be into the dark, rebellious image, and the rock crowd will appreciate the muscle, but this is a party track so anthemia that the hipster girls of Brooklyn will not be able to deny and will surely find its way onto a Michael Cera film soundtrack and blasting out of NYLON readers’ windows everywhere in Williamsburg this Summer.

And last but not least, the real bruiser on this record is Going Down, which is not about fellatio (per say) but no less twisted. Like any great, memorable rock song, it starts with a fast guitar buildup, reminiscent of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades then explodes into a hurricane of sonic vulgarity. And speaking of vulgarity, the lyrics that follow spin a tale that is nastier than anything on this record or any other you will hear all year:

Hey there, Father
I don’t wanna bother you
But I’ve got a sin to confess
I’m just 16 if you know what I mean
Do you mind if I take off my dress?

Perhaps there is something that we could work out
I noticed your breathing is starting to change
We could go in the back behind all these stacks of bibles
And get out of this cage

Ok so if aggressively bribing a priest, while in confession, with underage sex to take place on the fucking premises, isn’t enough you will soon find that her motivation to be saved is for killing a cheating boyfriend, by castration, and her only other regret for this surely hell-worthy trespass, is that apparently the departed was pretty good in bed, and now there’s no one to satisfy her sexually.

I didn’t wanna do it, Father
But I caught him with another woman
So I put him in a grave
And now there’s no one left around to get me off

They identified him by the circumcision that I made
why did I have to go and kill him
When he was the best I’d ever had

On top of all of this, like homage to the Cherry Bomb herself, Cheri Currie, Momsen really is only 17, and in the video for Miss Nothing she is rolling around insanely suggestively, in a corset and stockings that look just like the one Currie made famous. No one this age has been this fearless and this devastating since. Fucking brutal.