Released: September 15
On their 12th album, The Pretenders push forward and reemerge from the past three years into a new world and a new way of thinking.
‘Relentless’ marks the second collaboration between Chrissie Hynde and the band’s resident guitarist, James Walbourne, with the legendary frontwoman describing their songwriting process as “a real melodic journey”.
“We had developed this method of working remotely and it seemed like we just kept on doing it for this album,” she explains. “This is something that we’ve honed down to an art in the last few years. He always comes up with something I wouldn’t have thought of myself and I love surprises.”
But from the opening number, Losing My Sense Of Taste, there’s an immediate sense of change – or ‘metamorphosis’ in the lyrics, even if the songs and the voice that carry them seem so reassuringly familiar.
Vocally, Hynde may have lost a touch of the power that carried their earliest anthems, but she substitutes it with heavy emotion that more than compensates and adds new dimensions to the recordings.
Singles A Love and Let The Sun Come In are classic Pretenders, while Vainglorious is an all-out rock moment, the rugged Domestic Silence leans into a guitar-laden soundscape and the slow grinding Just Let It Go is a brooding track with one of finest vocal deliveries on the record.
Meanwhile, the six-minute closing ballad, I Think About You Daily, is heavy with emotion and underpinned by experimental strings arranged by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.
Arriving forty-five years after their formation, ‘Relentless’ is a solid body of work and its title symbolic of a musical history that spans decades, transcends generations and remains as vibrant today as it did back in the early years. “I enjoy seeing the various meanings and origins of a word,” Hynde says of the album name.
“And I liked the definition: ‘showing no abatement of intensity’. It’s the life of the artist. You never retire. You become relentless.”
Not just a reassuring sentiment to legions of fans, it’s an ethos that carried The Pretenders through the years and in adding the label to their latest work, a bold declaration that there’s plenty of fight left in them yet.