It’s only been two years since The Pretty Reckless came out with Going to Hell. A relatively short time considering how long some bands can take to release music, but it’s obvious on the first listen that they’ve made some changes to their formula and attitudes since their last album. While they’re still following the same basic style of hard rock, Who You Selling For takes on a more restrained, grown style of rock than what they’ve offered us before.
There are quite a few moments where the new style has done good things for The Pretty Reckless. Their new sound draws heavily from blues music and other more general styles of rock, with a less all-out style being used a majority of the time and the grunge influences finding themselves as part of a complete balancing act between genres. The new style creates some very compelling moments musically, with The Walls Are Closing In / Hangman being a decent indicator of how the album plays out. Going from a piano intro and building into a rock track, it initially feels anticlimactic as a standalone piece, but makes more sense as you experience the rest of the album in context.
The middle section of the album easily contains its strongest songs, and is coincidentally where the blues influence is at its strongest. Prisoner in particular shows this off best, with a hard swagger and a staggering amount of attitude that sells its minimal production to the full effect, and opens up the next set of songs perfectly. Aside from Back to the River, which carries more of a country twang than anything else but easily manages to stand with the rest of this section, the songs all follow a similar style, albeit not quite as powerful.
Outside of this, at its opening and tail end, the album unfortunately doesn’t feel quite as solid. While nothing stands out as awful, The Devil’s Back feels like an experiment gone wrong; spending three minutes as a vocal track before spending the last four minutes of its long run time as an airy guitar solo, it feels like it heads nowhere and feels strange in general, especially being followed up by Mad Love. Had The Devil’s Back closed the album, it may have made more sense, but it ultimately falls flat.
Who You Selling For shows some strong changes in The Pretty Reckless’ formula, but it stumbles just as much as it succeeds. The newfound maturity is a nice spin on their music that gives it a breath of fresh air that was much needed, but feels like a step towards the final stage of their growth that will truly show how they’ve improved as musicians. It’s an album with some glimpses of greatness, but ultimately doesn’t really take you anywhere.