The Big Noise
THE PRETENDERS Viva El Amor WEA; As with much of her output, there's a shrewd grasp of pop history here
With Viva El Amor, her first studio album in five years, virtually her full range of modes is contained in one handy package, tracking her emotional condition as it moves from the vulnerability of "From The Heart Down" to the rough-stuff assertiveness of"Samurai" and "Biker".
"Popstar" opens the album with Chrissie in familiar territory, acidly cutting up unnamed colleagues in the manner of "Private Life" and "Talk Of The Town". This time, it's the recent rash of prefabricated pop poppets that come in for a tongue-lashing, Hynde contemptuous of their apparent shallowness and lack of spine. "They don't make 'em like they used to," she observes, surely with one eye on the mirror.
As with much of her output, there's a shrewd grasp of pop history at work in the arrangement, where the slick rhythm guitar, fuzz bass and warped harmonica solo are joined by harmonies which are culled from "Sweets For My Sweet".
Her disdain isn't limited just to her contemporaries, though; "Baby's Breath" finds Chrissie chafing at the attentions of a young admirer - "Why did you send me roses? Save them for someone's death" - while her chiding in "From The Heart Down" is directed more at herself, for how her "senses must compete with a brain that lets me down".
Though she can be as reflective and resigned as Aimee Mann about emotional turmoil, the dark, languid eroticism of "Samurai" suggests a preference for passion over romance - an impression confirmed by the closing "Biker", a brooding rumination on outsider appeal which contrasts the "bogus desires" of society with the outlaw life: "You who have nothing have something/ That only the 1 per cent could ever see/ You bring out the biker in me."
With the Stephens Hague and Street ensuring that the music has a smooth and contemporary surface, and guitarist Adam Seymour displaying inventive restraint throughout, Viva El Amor is as elegant and accomplished an album as we have any right to expect from Chrissie Hynde at this point in her career.
Certainly, she's mastered better than most the trick of growing old gracefully without also growing soft and complacent.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
After Sam Smith’s Mobo success, is the help of a pushy parent the surest route to stardom?
Pottermore: JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story featuring 'greying' 33-year-old wizard
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year