Single Review: The Pretty Reckless – ‘Just Tonight’

When I first heard of The Pretty Reckless, Taylor Momsen, and her stint in Gossip Girl, nothing really prepared me for the kind of music they deal in. I was expecting some kind of watered down, gobby teenager rock/pop similar to old skool Avril Lavigne, but what instead what was delivered was the darker than dark ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, cementing Taylor and her cohorts firmly in the rock/grunge scene. Unfortunately, it also plonked her right in the middle of hundreds of other non-commercial acts choosing to nestle somewhere outside of the public consciousness.

So, on the ‘shock’ Top 10 placing of their début single, and further success of their début album thanks to the exposure Gossip Girl gave Taylor (plus the fact ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ was used in the 2010 film Kick Ass), there was a glimmer of hope that heavy rock music would wean it’s way back into popular consumerism rather than serve as something purely for the underground.

Things started to look more like the reality when second single ‘Miss Nothing’ peaked at just #39, so now it seems The Pretty Reckless have opted for a softer, more commercial track the still keeps their signature sound but channelling influences of an Avril Lavigne ballad, just with a little more misery.

‘Just Tonight’ is just brilliant – there’s hooks, emotion, thought-provoking lyrics, all topped off with a monstrous chorus that brings plenty of teenaged angst to proceedings. Of course, whilst being slightly more commercial musically, the lyrics are typical of The Pretty Reckless and discuss many pejorative pessimisms that capture the lows of simply being alive: things such as pills, ignorance, being “too numb to feel right now”, there’s even a clock that’s “ticking away” Taylor’s time. In the middle eight, the song transposes to a major key and takes to a much-needed lighter tone but the lyrics still retain their gloomy outlook through to the bitter end, where a quartet of sweeping strings takes over from the growling guitars.

Here’s the video: lots of dark imagery in here too

1:57… That’s not very gothic…

For those people still not sold of Taylor’s snotty teenage attitude to music and the fact that cracking a smile is a about as difficult for her as walking at a normal pace in that red PVC dress, this song is where she shines through – not because she’s happy – but because there’s vulnerability and above all else, passion, behind all the growling, the face-making, the wall of noise between her and her listeners that usually presents her in such a dislikeable manner. If Taylor would stop worrying and desperately trying to convince us she’s rock and roll, we might just have a genuine rock star on our hands.*

*Of course, this is subject to whether the mass public will bother to look outside commercial radio’s playlists and the UK Singles Chart for their music.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: December 27, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Light Me Up’

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