Who You Selling For shows The Pretty Reckless going back to basics, chucking the hollywood glam/stripper heel aesthetic and creating something much more down-to-earth and gritty. This record sees the band take a completely different approach, showcasing a collection of southern-rock, bluesy tracks of a remarkably naked and raw feel.
There might be the slightly grating sound addition of a prisoner trudging along in chains in ‘Prisoner’, or the frequent intrusion of studio coughing and shuffling, but ultimately, it seems for now, the days of over-produced, tacky sound effects have been eradicated. Their last album, Going to Hell, thankfully sees the last of this, so that’s right, this time you won’t hear the sound of gun shots or a woman masturbating.
‘The Walls Are Closing In” has flickering moments which resemble Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, with a piano melody paired with Taylor Momsen singing to her “Mama”, it all seems rather unoriginal. The track then titters off into an obscure guitar riff, with lazy, barely-there vocals, hypnotically orbiting around the same vocal. With obvious potential, this track eventually issues itself as an itch you simply can’t scratch, being flat and tepid, leading to nowhere.
Many of the tracks on the album are directionless, sounding as if they are unfinished first recordings, or taken straight from a studio jam session. ‘Take Me Down’ shows the simpleness of the band’s songwriting, with predictable, cliche lyrics such as “All I wanna do is rock” and “I gave my life to rock’n roll”.
‘Oh My God’ has got to be the only track on the album deserving any sort of commendation, holding a chaotic, Motorhead-esque rhythm and clanking, sharp bass. However, from this moment the record is dormant until the very end, with tracks such as ‘Bedroom Window’ holding more of a likeness to a lullaby rather than a song belonging on a classic rock-inspired album.
‘Already Dead’ is a sleepy and laborious listen, slow-moving, with the only commodity granted to save its listener from their inevitable slumber is being that of Momsen’s harsh and pitchy vocals, pushing herself mistakingly way past her capability. Realistically, the calmness of these tracks wouldn’t host much of a problem if this style was used sparingly, perhaps if the band used only one or two of the slow ballad-like tracks for the album. However, with the number of mellow songs shown, it’s hard not to anticipate that the band have instead decided to play this record safe, not using their usual raunchy, heavy, dark persona occupied from previous albums; definitely a disappointing turn for the band.
Who You Selling For is a record of a band trying way too hard to seem authentic, when in fact, the result is of a completely opposite effect. It is understandable that The Pretty Reckless are one of the many bands adamant on saving the genre, but is bustling their listeners with the most obvious of rock’n roll cliches really going to open people’s eyes to rock music, or just leave them cringing at their unoriginality?