Taylor Momsen is far from the innocent, naive, catholic school girl she was brought up to be. Capturing the hearts of the worldwide public with her role as the sweet Cindy Lou in Dr Suess’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at age 7, her teenage years saw her throwing temper tantrums on the set of Gossip Girl, staying out past her bedtime and throwing away everything she’d ever known in return for a guitar on her back, a chip on her shoulder and a cigarette dangling from between her lips. It’s from Momsen’s teenage delinquency that spawned The Pretty Reckless’ second studio album, the aptly named ‘Going to Hell,’ which was released March 12th 2014 on Razor and Tie Records.
In the opening track, ‘Follow Me Down,’ Momsen spits in the face of religion and righteousness by leading into the hard, driving, and tight opening riff with a series of orgasmic moans that just screams ‘rock and roll mother fucker!’ The lyrics in this song drip with sexual and religious innuendos ‘follow me down to the river/drink while the water is clean/follow me down to the river tonight/I’ll be down here on my knees.’ The use of reverb on the guitar within the breakdown creates an eerie atmosphere while Momsen mocks the idea of innocence, ‘when you’re young you always take what you can get/even bicycles and sprinklers get you wet.’
The title track, ‘Going to Hell’, does exactly what it says on the tin. Playing on the idea of good versus evil and the corruption of the church and religion, the song starts off with Momsen saying ‘God bless me father for I have sinned’ in a seductive, husky whisper before the beat kicks in. The lyrical content involves various unspeakable sins that would make a nun go weak at the knees; antics in which Momsen gets a kick out of. “I got caught for what I did/but took it all in style.” The heavy, blues orientated main riff delivered by Ben Phillips takes a detour for the breakdown as the tempo slows to an almost childlike, taunting, nursery rhyme-esque section of the song. It’s needless to say this was the perfect song to name the album after, the perfect song for a single and the perfect for song for Momsen to express her inner demon that she’d kept caged up for so long.
The first single, ‘Heaven Knows,’ is an anthemic tribute to all the outcasts and under dogs, featuring a school bell and the chanting of children, allowing this song to please any crowd any day of the week. This song is a dedication to the lost souls, letting them know that they are worth something and that society can’t put them down.
‘House on a Hill’ is a melancholy epic and dark horse on the album, painting the image of broken families and lost children. A much more intricate and delicate song than what TPR have been used to, but could still bring a tear to your eye none the less.
TPR are no strangers to risqué and racy lyrics, ‘Sweet Things’ being their most suggestive to date. Switching between an electric hard metal riff to an acoustic section reminiscent of something that would be played at a malicious freak show with Phillips sharing the vocals, ‘Sweet Things’ refers to candy in which a predator might use to lure children to them, once again in reference to the corruption of innocence. ‘Hey there little girl/come inside I’ve got some sweet things/Put your hair in curls/paint you up just like a drag queen.’
The shortest song on the album running in at 56 seconds is the vocal and guitar based song,
‘Dear Sister.’ The lyrics follow the albums motif of the church and how Momsen gets a kick out of her own corruption, ‘I’ve been along this lonely road/looks like I’m not coming home/but I don’t mind.’
Another funky blues based riff comes from the song ‘Absolution,’ referring to someone else other than Momsen herself needing to ask a higher power for their own forgiveness, or their absolution.
‘Blame Me’ does the opposite of its 2 predecessors, and instead sees Momsen more than willingly taking the blame for her own wrong-doing, and even those around her, ‘Blame all your life on me.’
Another short and sweet acoustic guitar and vocal based song is the introspective, ‘Burn.’ With the lyrics, ‘Want me to burn/want me to hurt/and maybe I will finally learn,’ Momsen could be talking about someone who wishes ill health on her, but as we’re running with the religion theme, we’re going to go with the assumption that a higher power wants her to burn in hell, seeing as she’s going there anyway.
In ‘Why’d You Bring A Shotgun To The Party?’ and ‘Fucked Up World,’ Momsen condemns the government and the system we’re all told to follow, ‘If you want to make a statement/you should’ve come without it’ and ‘ain’t a chain on my brain/I don’t need to be saved.’
The album finishes on a desolate note with the thought provoking, ‘Waiting For A Friend.’ With lyrics based on mental health and being your own worst enemy, Momsen takes a step back from taking pleasure from her inner demons, and instead ends on a more serious note of, ‘waiting for a friend/to come and break me out.’
‘Going to Hell’ is an easily likable album as the majority of the songs have a ‘fuck you’ appeal to them as well as numerous melancholic ballads, which both the rebellious and woebegone youth of today would certainly be able to relate to. I wouldn’t let your God-fearing grandmother listen to it though.
To listen to the full album, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWC9Cgtjo4o