Pretenders – Hate for Sale

Suddenly a new album by the Pretenders is released under the title ‘Hate for Sale’. It is the first album in the line up that we have been able to hear and see on stage for a number of years, but which had not yet made an album together.

Of course, Chrissy Hynde is still the face and voice of the band. Since the beginning of the band, she has been assisted on drums by primal rocker Martin Chambers. ‘Hate for sale’ is the eleventh album by them. Pretenders are one of those bands that may not be named by many listeners in the first place, but since the band has been included in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame since 2005 and has produced countless classics such as ‘Brass in Pocket’, ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ and ‘I’ll stand by you’, just to name a few, this seems to be unfair. It would be quite an achievement if after the fairly successful ‘Alone’ (2016) the band will come up with an album that can appeal to the older fans and perhaps also bind new souls to them. Can they?

Well, after several plays, the answer to this question is more than resounding “Yes”. ‘Hate for Sale’ may even be the best album the Pretenders released since 1994’s ‘Last of the Independents’ and maybe I dare to put the new album right next to their debut album ‘Pretenders’, which at the time had a lot of bravura worldwide. We are now 40 years later but damn, this band still does sound fresh and mean at the same time. Wonderfully easy playing, the casual sound we know from Chrissie Hynde, it’s all there.

The foursome kicks off with the wonderfully rocking title track ‘Hate for Sale’. Volume up to 11, this is justified. The neighbours will have to be patient before they can stir their coffee again. Hallelujah, praise the Lord: Pretenders are back! They haven’t sounded like this for 35 years, what a party. Of course, it is not a musical high mass. Three chords and a portion of attitude, that’s all you need. Chrissie has not changed a bit and it seems as if the band wants to make a statement. And so they did.

Second song, ‘The Buzz’. We go down in speed a bit, but that voice, the voice that glides so wonderfully along with the chords. It’s about drugs, what else. This one can stand next to ‘Back on the Chain Gang’ in the trophy cabinet. In ‘Lightning man’ the Pretenders go reggae. Of course, Chrissie has done it before with UB40, but here it is striking that Pretenders together seem to have undergone a rejuvenation treatment. It is not a typical Pretenders song, but it fits wonderfully well in the feel of the album.

The album goes from one good track to the next. ‘Peat Accountant Daddy’ is the ideal set opener for the live shows. An ideal song to perform live. The foot that will automatically start tapping is always a good sign. Again the loose signature, no whipped up situations, just straightforward. Chrissie is the personification of the Pretenders. The band fits her like a nice leather jacket. For the past 40 years, she has made the band her ideal vehicle for expressing her creativity. But the best is yet to come: ‘You can’t hurt a Fool’ is the most beautiful song on this album. Chrissie pulls the song towards her, curls her voice around the guitar chords, sends the track to every corner where she wants it. Her voice is wonderfully good. This one will give you goosebumps; an instant classic is made.

Via the infectious ‘Junkie Walk’ we arrive at ‘Didn’t want to be this lonely’. Another track that begs to be performed live. The guitar solo, rattling piano, pounding drums and floating bass; it’s all here. The album closes with ‘Crying in Public’, a ballad with piano accompaniment and a string. Not Pretenders at all, but what can’t Chrissie do? Goosebumps to places where you might not expect it. She sings with that beautiful typical vibrato. Close your eyes and let yourself be taken away.

‘Hate for Sale’ is Pretenders’ best album for 26, perhaps 40 years. They have reinvented themselves and can last for 40 more years. (8/10) (BMG)

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