Label: Razor & Tie 79301-83533-1
Format: LP, Limited Pressing
Marble Grey, Blood Red, Black
Going To Hell is the sophomore album of the semi underground rock group headlined by Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen. A follow up, and some say a continuation of the theme begun in their premiere album, Light Me Up released four years earlier in 2010.
I've been aware of Momsen's transition into music for a while now, but mainly due to her sometimes highly publicized wardrobe (or lack their of) at concerts. I never had much interest in actually listening to her music, which often can be the turnoff for many listeners when an artist over-sexes their persona to the point that it actually overshadows their music.
But in listening to a station on LastFM, tracks from Light Me Up kept playing and I found myself enjoying what I heard. I'm not a big fan of hard rock, but really The Pretty Reckless, aside from the Gothic persona Momsen portray's is not THAT hard. In fact the group more straddles the fence between hard rock and alternative, leaning much more on the alternative side. I'm not quite sure why the group has seemed to want to be associated with the harder end of the genre when the general style of music and Momsen's singing isn't very cohesive with that norm. In there earlier years they even opened for groups that would definitely have been on the "screamy" side of hard/Gothic rock, so in some sense they seem a little out of place. And fans of that particular genre don't seem to think too much about the group from what I've been able to find around the internet.
This association seems to have limited The Pretty Reckless's mainstream appeal, (maybe that's what they were going for), so you're not likely to hear them on the radio stations that play anything mainstream, which is kind of a shame because they would fit into the mix fine and probably thrive. With that said, they still seem to have enough popularity to sell out two individual limited pressings (1,000 each) of grey and blood red vinyl in a matter of days of the album's release, with a cover that also managed to garner pretty decent internet coverage, but onto the music...
What I like most about Going To Hell is the tracks have quite a bit of variety, while there is a hard rock "feel" to the album in the sense the theme of the album is a little dark, there's only a few tracks I that would consider truly hard rock and mainly that's in terms of the music, not Momsen who rarely screams instead of sings. The title track, Going To Hell, has that hard rock feel to it as well as Why'd You Bring A Shot Gun To The Party. The rest of the tracks have more of a modern alternative rock sound to them which Momsen's voice is actually very well suited for.
Some of my favorite tracks off the album include the recently released single Heaven Knows, which incorporates a children's choir and has an anthem rock feel to it. House On A Hill is a softer rock ballad song showcasing Momsen's voice. Burn also trims it down and provides Momsen to showcase her voice without a lot of noise, this is a great acoustic track featuring her and a guitar. Lastly, Blame Me, probably one of the tracks the group comes closest to sounding more mainstream. The rest of the tracks are pretty good as well sticking to the same theme of the album but still providing some variety, which is nice to have a rock album were each track is not just loud music but has some individuality to it.
Overall, I was quite surprised how much I ended up liking this album. Momsen is a pretty good singer and truly showcases this on some the softer tracks. I've never been a Momsen fan, but the music is quite different from what you'd likely expect from looking at her and more on key with what was really popular in the 70's and 80's with female artists like Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Grace Slick and many others who thrived in that era as artists. So in that sense it's nice to once again see a female lead singer in a rock band when most seem to gravitate towards pop.
Going To Hell is definitely worth taking a look at if you're a general fan of rock music, especially one with a female lead singer. Don't let Momsen's image dissuade you from at least giving a few tracks a listen, she's got some talent, both in the voice department as well as having written a lot of the tracks. The vinyl pressings are nice quality, and if you were able to pick up the colored pressings when they first came out you got a good deal, the original pressings are now garnering at least three times the original release price.