I want to be clear: This is not a mind-blowing album. It doesn't reinvent rock and roll or even just The Pretenders. But it does confirm and remind us why we've loved Chrissie Hynde for all these years. Great singing, song-writing, and playing. It's not complicated, and it doesn't have to be.
Like the classic Pretenders albums of the early 80s, the production is lean, this time working in slide guitars and Bo Diddley shuffles, but maintaining the sound and feel of a live band. The songs speak for themselves, and Hynde's voice and signature hard-nosed attitude come across clearly. There aren't any songs here that match up with Brass in Pocket, Back on the Chain Gang, Middle of the Road, or The Pretenders' other classics, but the songs are smart and feel honest. The album is focused and real and plays to Hynde and co.'s strengths. And Chrissie's voice hasn't lost a bit of its range or power. She'll always be THE greatest woman in rock for my money.
My only complaint about The Pretenders is that I wish they (well, she, really) were more prolific. It'd be great not to have to wait so long for Hynde to give more of her singular talent to the world. So, in short, I think this a good, solid album, one that will appeal to longtime fans, even if it doesn't reach the peaks of past glories.