80's, Acoustic, Bluesy, Female vocals, Guitar-Hero, Intimist, Melancholic, Old School, Punk, Technical
""Retentless" is the Pretenders' twelfth album, confirming their renewed form since 2016 despite an album more geared towards balladry than electric rock."
ADRIANSTORK (29.02.2024)  
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A cult band of the English new wave, The Pretenders went through a long period in the desert in the mid-80s, trading in their electric verve in favour of flavourless pop. The sole captain of the ship during this turbulent period was fringed singer Chrissie Hynde, who set a new course on "Alone", released in 2016 after an 8-year hiatus. The short-lived 'Hate For Sale', released in 2020, confirmed this return to shape. For their twelfth album, and their first for Parlophone, the Anglo-American band wanted to be relentless, like the little boy wearing boxing gloves on the cover.

Stability is not a word in The Pretenders' dictionary. Although the hatchet had been buried in the 90s between Chrissie Hynde and her historic drummer Martyn Chambers, the latter has once again decided to leave the band and been replaced by Dane Kris Sonne, who had already accompanied Chrissie solo. Bassist Nick Wilkinson is also out, replaced by Chris Hill with his jazzy CV and Dave Page. But the most notable arrival is Welshman Carwyn Ellis, who not only takes over the keyboards but also the acoustic guitar. As figureheads, Chrissie Hynde and guitarist James Walbourne are once again writing partners.

The album gets off to a flying start with the electric 'Losing My Sense Of Taste', with its sultry guitars and relentless rhythm section. Chrissie Hynde's magnetic, falsely ingenuous voice is always spellbinding. James Walbourne has the gift of placing a memorable guitar gimmick at just the right moment, as on the chilling 'A Merry Widow', on which he unleashes his fury at the end of the track, and also on 'A Love', aided by a sharp bass line, or on 'Domestic Silence', this time in the company of Carwyn Ellis's Hammond organ. The Welshman brings a touch of renewal with his grand piano doubled with organ on the crepuscular 'The Promise Of Love', shot through with a clammy tension.

The emphasis, however, is placed on more intimate, calmer tracks like the ballad 'Look Away', on which Carwyn Ellis distinguishes himself this time by strumming the strings of an acoustic guitar. 'Your House Is On Fire' avoids the dripping sentimentality of 'I'll Stand By You', with sober backing vocals and an appealing voice. However, the band sometimes remains confined to its comfort zone. 'Just Let It Go' would have deserved a shorter treatment. The FM-calibre hit 'Let The Sun Come In' lacks depth and quickly goes into autopilot. On the final track, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood provides the string arrangements, but the result is bland and unremarkable. In addition, Chrissie Hynde has not abandoned certain vocal tics (particularly on 'A Love'), which will continue to 'tickle' some listeners.

This twelfth album, which focuses more on ballads rather than the nervous, electric rock that made The Pretenders famous, is not without interest and confirms the Anglo-American band's renewed form since 2016. For all that, it is the least striking album in this trilogy. Let's hope Chrissie Hynde and her gang don't give it a twin.
- Official website

01. Losing My Sense Of Taste
02. A Love
03. Domestic Silence
04. The Copa
05. Promise Of Love
06. Merry Widow
07. Let the Sun Come In
08. Look Away
09. Your House Is On Fire
10. Just Let It Go
11. Vainglorious
12. I Think About You Daily

Chrissie Hynde: Chant / Guitares
James Walbourne: Guitares
Martin Chambers: Batterie
Nick Wilkinson: Basse
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