The Pretenders: Hate for Sale review – every song could be a single

Chrissie Hynde and co make it sound oh-so easy on the band’s 11th studio album

Blessed with an evergreen voice and an unimpeachable melodic ear, Chrissie Hynde – the keeper of one of the finer catalogues in rock – has been churning out consistently rewarding records of late. A solo album of jazz-inclined covers, 2019’s Valve Bone Woe, followed a 2016 Akron summit – Alone – with a fellow Ohioan, producer Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Hate for Sale was written in tandem with the Pretenders’ touring lineup. There is chemistry here, making for tight songs that prance insouciantly from genre to genre, scattering wisdom and swagger in their wake.

Having been an actual punk, Hynde can sneer at some chump with “coke in his pocket” and a waxed chest on the title track. Drugs figure often: Junkie Walk pairs buzzing guitars with disdain for the user’s amoral sidle, while The Buzz compares love to opiates without feeling hackneyed.

But every song could be a single. A crunching garage rock rush, I Didn’t Know When to Stop, finds Hynde – also a visual artist – struggling to render someone in oils. “I painted over you in cadmium blue light,” she concludes, before guitarist James Walbourne peels off another succinct solo.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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