The Pretenders already have a storied and glory soaked career, from their multiple hit singles such as Kid, Talk of the Town and I’ll Stand By You to their victorious induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. Their many albums are celebrated by critics and fans alike, and still being able to offer something new and exciting after all these years is a feat that would elude many successful bands, but with Relentless, The Pretenders deliver once again.
Kicking with a dark and moody tone on Losing My Sense Of Taste, the guitars soaked in effects adding a trippy feel, whilst regretful and reflective lyrics lace themselves throughout. The energy is immediately pumped up on A Love, where alt-rock guitars and heart wrenching lyrics are fused together to create a rocky stomper of a track, as well as utilising some of the realest lyrics on the album “I’m scared of me right here, I’m scared of taking stuff I give up every year”.
The rock influences carry onto the song Domestic Silence, with it’s crunchy and distorted guitar riff sounding almost Black Sabbath-esque, giving us a doom-laden track to stretch the definitions of any label you can care to attach to this record. Another thing this album does really is a fantastic dynamic flow, as songs like The Copa bring the energy down with softly played drums and delicate sounding guitars, as well as with the ballad The Promise Of Love with it’s powerful piano juxtaposed with gritty vocals. This song also makes fantastic use of harmonising between the singing and the guitar, which gives it an immensely satisfying depth, and would make the song sound right at home on a Bond soundtrack.
Easily the strongest song on the album is the epic Merry Widow. The strange voicings on the guitars give the song an epic tension eight from the beginning, along with more harmonies that add a wonderful creepiness. The song grows to include distorted guitars that give it a stompy edge, and just when you think the song is winding down, a sharp and virtuosic guitar riff comes in to begin a slow build to a brilliant climax, all in all bringing together a truly superb song.
The jangly guitars come as a but of a surprise afterwards with Let The Sun Come In, as well as on Your House Is On Fire, but this further shows the dynamic mastery of the record and does well to show the broad range of styles at their disposal. Vainglorious adds a punk feel to the latter stages of the album, but also comes in with some spooky electronic effects that make it an eclectic and interesting addition to the tracklist. Then, the album comes to a sorrowful conclusion with I Think About You Daily, it’s regretful lyrics and sombre vocals weaving a heartbreaking narrative about long-lost love.
Overall this album is a triumph, blending together a diverse array of styles with a deep and impressive depth of songwriting skills. Songs like Merry Widow and I Think About You Daily are more than worthy additions to their list of hits, and you can be sure that this will not be the last time they put forth such an impressive effort.