As we all know, the grieving process is a long and arduous journey we all have to face at some point in our lives, which is made even more torturous with the intensified pressure of facing death within the inception of self-healing. This is what makes The Pretty Reckless’ latest return to the spotlight a triumphant one, with the demons and ghosts of yesteryear still very much in their hearts and minds with their fourth album Death By Rock And Roll.
Sprouting inspiration out of the devastating loss of the Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in the early hours of the 18th of May 2017 - just hours after concluding their North American tour where The Pretty Reckless performed as their opening act - plus the tragic death of the band's long-time collaborator, Kato Khandwala, the NYC group found themselves spiralling into a pit of brokenness and egregious substance abuse in the tail end of last decade. This journey into darkness led the band to a massively important fork in the road, where they knew “it was either death or go forward” in which The Pretty Reckless bravely started writing songs in order to work through their grief.
In late 2018, the band returned to the recording studio for over a year long stint to produce a testament of devotion to the ideology of Rock and Roll, at times relating to life on the road of a modern day rock star as an act of continuous religious pilgrimage. Considering the incredible artistry displayed across the majority of this true Hard Rock Opera experience, fundamental stand outs include ‘Got So High’, ‘Harley Darling’ and the albums namesake ‘Death By Rock And Roll’.
‘Got So High’ delves into the recreation of performance adrenaline through the use of drugs to fill the hole left in a disillusioned perception of reality; while ‘Harley Darling’, a country rock-esque inspired track, serves as a sweet yet sorrowful act of remembrance to The Pretty Reckless' fallen friend Kato Khandwala. Through the usage of motorcycle revving sound effects and grief-stricken lyrical content, 'Harley Darling' stands as a painfully beautiful, yet touching homage to the man who helped shape this band in to who they are today.
The road to Rock And Roll stardom is paved in the blood, sweat and tears of legendary like figures so dedicated to providing authentically raw and deeply personal states of consciousness, that transcends all facets of our existence that supposedly divide us; but the road to the top is still an emotionally crushing, volatile and difficult one to navigate, in which many of our celebrated icons unfortunately don’t make it out alive.
With this understanding in mind, it allows us to contemplate as to why the world of Rock and Roll is so enticing; it is a chance to achieve the closest thing to freedom with the powerful mindset of “I’m going to live my way; I’m going out my way” which feels like the ultimate goal for true liberation, which is why ‘Death By Rock And Roll’ the albums namesake track shines above the rest for its impactful, informative and transformative lyrical content teamed with The Pretty Reckless' perfect blend of Hard and Alt Rock sensibilities, creating a listening experience unlike anything we’ve ever heard in the band's 12 years in the spotlight.
As much as recent years have not been kind to The Pretty Reckless, this defining moment in their musical exploration is one of immense pride and honour. Through loss they dove into the deepest depths of despair, to rise from the ashes and the darkness to flourish using their passion as a source of survival; in Taylors own words “...rock and roll saved our lives” and in return they gave Rock and Roll the respect it has earned through this incredible record.
Death By Rock And Roll is released February 12th via Century Media Records.