The Pretty Reckless

Light Me Up

Written by: AP on 18/12/2010 13:52:35

The Pretty Reckless is the brainchild of 17 year-old Taylor Momsen, who plays the character of cute Brooklyn virgin turns obnoxious scene queen Jenny Humphrey in our editor-in-chief's favorite television series, Gossip Girl. Although her sense of style early in the series stands in stark contrast with the blackened lips and rockstar hairdo she sports in the 'Reckless, it is blatantly obvious that Gossip Girl stylist Eric Daman is a heavy influence on Taylor's Courtney Love impersonation - not least because this is precisely the sort of costume that accompanies Jenny's iconoclastic transformation in the series. As a result, the 'Reckless are pretty much a shoo-in for critical drubbings. They push every wrong button.

On the surface the band is a nightmare for integrity: teenage girl wearing lingerie on stage and writhing around tables in the videos, who happens to be famous for a glitzy, vacuous and frustratingly addictive television series, backed by three hired hands twice her age. Taylor Momsen as a musician, however, overturns all expectations. She might sound like Hole in a trainer bra, but Ms. Momsen is a far cry from typical actors and actresses multicasting themselves through music. However polished her slick pop-grunge is, it's indisputably more provocative than similar, praised efforts by Scarlett Johansson, Juliette Lewis and Zooey Deschanel, let alone those of our age's pop divas Rihanna et. al.

Citing influences such as The White Stripes and Led Zeppeling (what?), Momsen and cohorts write "Celebrity Skin" ten times and have a whale of a time, and although fans of Paramore will rejoice the closet pop anthems on offer here, Taylor Momsen's surprisingly low, growly, deadpan voice is far more convincing than the pseudo punk attitude of one Hayley Williams. This is at heart a fun, dirty, insincere, cheap-thrill-laden pop rock record with raunchy riffs and lyrics that sound like they drawled from the mouth of a Bret Easton Ellis character. The clichéd emo-romance "Make Me Wanna Die" is irresistible, and "Miss Nothing" is three taut minutes of discount Blondie you can't help singing along to.

Everything about The Pretty Reckless is a guilty pleasure, which is why the sound of Momsen lighting a cigarette, coughing, and sighing "somebody mixed my medicine" on album opener "My Medicine" feels so right, even though you know it's wrong. And so, while the attitude and sleaze are largely illusory, songs like "Goin' Down" sound worryingly controversial ("Hey there Father, I don't wanna bother you / but I've got a sin to confess / I'm just sixteen, if you know what I mean / Do you mind if I take off my dress?") and, indeed, convincing enough to warrant Taylor Momsen's rock n' roll contraption some edge.

"Light Me Up" is the antithesis to Momsen's fragile character in Gossip Girl, full of defiance, confidence and, inevitably, also balladry. It is as much a precautionary tale for us men lusting for this teenage celebrity to keep our hands in check as a deeply personal and emotive journey into her soul. Cheese aside, whatever your disposition The Pretty Reckless are likely to cater to your occasional taste for glossy, straightforward songs that stick like the pile of tissues by our editor-in-chief's monitor after an episode of Gossip Girl.


Download: Make Me Wanna Die, Just Tonight, Miss Nothing, Goin' Down
For the fans of: Automatic Loveletter, Hey Monday, Hole, Paramore
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.08.2010
Polydor Records

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