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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm Syndrome

Incredibly, Stockholm is Chrissie Hynde's first solo album after well over 30 years fronting The Pretenders. She is the Queen of Cool and I wondered what attitude and fresh approach she might bring to this much anticipated effort that was released commercially on June 10. What new side of her professional self might we discover in a bold, new outing of her own?

The rock & roll diva co-wrote the album's 11 songs with Bjorn Yttling and a band of Swedish musicians. I was instantly gripped by the catchy pop quality of the tracks. "You or No One" opens Stockholm and it had me bopping my head and shaking my hips in a New York minute. That was followed by the album's first single, "Dark Sunglasses," a canorous criticism of being rich and famous by someone who is both yet earnestly seems to eschew celebrity's material trappings. The third track, "Like in the Movies," is another mid-tempo ballad put across beautifully, as the musical arrangement embraces Hynde's iconic vocals.

Perhaps more variety of material and more range might have improved the overall quality of the album. By the time I reached the end, I had the feeling that it stayed within its comfort zone and might have been a bit more adventurous. That said, it is refreshing to hear Ms Hynde working outside her usual band, offering her fans a distinctly quality product composed of striking, original material. Stockholm has more artistic integrity than 90% of the pop music produced these days.

Stockholm refers to the location of the recording session, not to the name of any song from this album. It is released on the Caroline International label.

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