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Albums Reviews

The Pretenders

Break Up the Concrete
Shangri-La
G.O.O.D./Columbia
[Four stars]

Rolling Stone IN Nov 08, 2008

Nearly a quarter century after she sang about it, Chrissie Hynde has gone back to Ohio – literally and figuratively. Rock’s most famous Akronite-turned-Londoner has been spending more time in her Rust Belt hometown, where she has opened a vegan restaurant. And on Break Up the Concrete, she has returned to the American musical heartland, injecting her songs with the hopped-up sound of early rock & roll. The result is the best Pretenders record in years, a mix of galloping rocka-billy and country & western songs, delivered in Hynde’s trademark snarl – the voice of the toughest chick in the biker gang. There are Bo Diddley-style rave-ups (”˜Break Up the Concrete’), pedal steel weepers (”˜One Thing Never Changed’) and boogie blues (”˜Rosalee’), played with crackling efficiency and anchored by virtuoso drummer Jim Keltner. The sound is raucous, but Hynde’s songs are grown-up: sad and wise reflections on politics and relationships, with a romanticism that’s hard-edged and hard-won. “Every drop that runs through the vein,” she sings in ”˜Boots of Chinese Plastic’, “always makes its way back to the heart again.”

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