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Year End 2008 - Best of 2008The Pretenders

Break Up The Concrete

Shangri-La Music

Nov 02, 2008 The Pretenders Bookmark and Share

This is The Pretenders’ first release since 2002’s Loose Screw, and the band’s second for an indie. Chrissie Hynde recruited a new band here, including famous session drummer Jim Keltner. The result is a bluesy, country-tinged romp with a raw, off-the-cuff feel to it, with count-offs, throat-clearing, and amp buzz making regular appearances.

For the most part, this is a real shitkicker: “Don’t Cut Your Hair,” “Rosalee,” and the title track are all stripped-down, rockabilly jams with blazing guitars. Not that she’s left the ballad behind: “Love’s a Mystery,” for example, delivers classic Pretenders vulnerability, as do a few other tracks (only this time around said vulnerability is accompanied by pedal steel).

Hynde’s lyrics are as perfect as ever, covering broken relationships, faith, politics, and place with the usual razor-sharp wit and street-smarts (dig this couplet: “Unemployable, illegal/You’re a whole film by Don Siegel”).

A few throwaway tunes, but probably the best Pretenders album since Get Close. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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