The Pretenders, Loose Screw

Keith Harris

By Keith Harris

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Sentimentality has never been Chrissie Hynde's greatest vice. And while the icy rocker has thawed slightly with age, on Loose Screw she's less interested in squandering her limited allotment of empathy than in celebrating her multifaceted ballsiness. The punchline of "Fools Must Die" is that she's not joking; one of her regrets on "I Should Of" is that she didn't deceive her ex-lover "with more aplomb"; and on "Complex Person," she says she doesn't carry a gun in her purse because she might impulsively take a shot at wolf-whistling construction workers. The latter song is one of several on which Jonathan Quarmby, who splits production duties with (not the) Kevin Bacon, employs studio effects to achieve a dub-reggae style, complete with distant melodica, skeletal guitar echo and loping bass. After a decade-plus of punchy pop-rock that came almost too easily for Hynde, her music is once more as nuanced as her persona.