Pretenders

Alone

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Chrissie Hynde sneers "I like being alone" on the title track and opening song on Alone, the first Pretenders album since 2006's Break Up the Concrete. That much is true. She may have revived the Pretenders name for Alone, the follow-up to her belated 2014 solo debut, Stockholm, but, just like in 2006, Martin Chambers isn't in the studio. Instead, Hynde is collaborating with Black Key Dan Auerbach, who brings in half of his side project the Arcs to help him play the instruments on Alone. Unsurprisingly, this studio incarnation of the Pretenders shares some '60s AM aesthetics with the Arcs, sometimes cooking along with the cool grace of Memphis soul and sometimes feeling as thick as rockers cranked out in a greasy garage. The latter is familiar territory for Hynde but the former is a new wrinkle for her, so one of the pleasures of Alone is hearing her laying back in a slow, soulful groove. "Roadie Man" simmers like classic Booker T. & the MG's, "Never Be Together" feels like a dispatch from an alternate Stax, while "One More Day" trades in a bit of bossa nova, a bit of rhythmic flair that illustrates how often Hynde and Auerbach play with forgotten '60s pop sounds. This gives Alone a supple, attractive feel, but Auerbach also encourages Hynde to lean into her tough side so that Alone swaggers like a classic Pretenders album. Attitude counts for a lot with Chrissie Hynde, but the true appeal of Alone is how it marries solid songwriting with a sympathetic, surprising production, all of which amounts to a very satisfying Pretenders album.

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