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The Critics Corner: Albums
Light Me Up
The Pretty Reckless | Light Me Up
Debut album surprises with power, honesty and a lot of rock
Name: Light Me Up
Label: Interscope
Release Date: February 8, 2011 (US)
Rating: 4.3/5

Review written by: Stephanie Mora & Valerie Roder

Sure, everyone is familiar with Taylor Momsen from the popular television show Gossip Girl. But was it known that Momsen is a talented singer/songwriter? That's exactly what Taylor Momsen is. She's a talented singer/songwriter with an absolute unique yet hauntingly beautiful voice. Momsen orginally formed a band in 2009. They recorded some demos and even opened up for The Veronicas, but she fired these band members because they didn't match her style of music; her style of music being well, rock and roll. Momsen formed a new band which is the present The Pretty Reckless. Members Ben Phillips on guitar, Mark Damon on bass, Jamie Perkins on drums and of course, Momsen herself providing vocals and rhythm guitar are a perfect fit for each other which can be seen in their performances and success. Signing with Interscope Records in 2009, joining the line up of Warped Tour in 2010, The Pretty Reckless just released their debut album Light Me Up on February 8th, 2011. The album is now available for purchase in the United States and England. Light Me Up provides fans with songs that are pure rock and roll and others that are more slow tempo. The lyrical content of the tracks describes sex, drugs, love, etc. Don't expect anything to be sugar coated. The lyrics are blunt, honest and powerful.

The album begins with a slower-tempo jam called My Medicine. It might sound like an oxymoron but The Pretty Reckless make it work quite well. My Medicine does a good job setting the tone for what listeners can expect from the entire album. Listeners will immediately pick up on Taylor Momsen's voice, the rock n roll edge of the song, and the dark tone of the lyrics. The track has lyrics that sing, "Somebody mixed my medicine...I don't know what I'm on," and while the images derived are amusing, there is a deeper meaning to be taken from the song. After a crazy night of experimenting, the affects are not pleasant.

The tempo slowly builds up in the next two tracks, Since You’re Gone and Make Me Wanna Die. While both songs build up tempo with lyrics and beats filled with complete rage, they portray different feelings. Since You’re Gone describes a relationship that ended bitterly but life moving on for the better despite it. Make Me Wanna Die expresses feelings of never being good enough in a relationship and it even includes backing vocals that makes the track even stronger. Each song is one that will have listeners screaming at the top of their lungs in agreement.

The next track, Light Me Up is also the title of the entire album. Listening to the song, it's easy to see why Light Me Up is the title track off the album. It's a mid-tempo song, slow and almost ballad in the beginning and picking up during the chorus. Momsen sings, "I don't think I can be anything other than me," which indicates that the track is about self-discovery and being comfortable in your own skin. With the switch in tempos and sweet melody, Light Me Up is an anthem that fans can sway their arms to, and rock out to.

The dark tune, Zombie, channels Momsen's inner feelings towards her opposition. The heavy power guitar chords continue to portray the song's theme of being pushed to one's limits and not allowing opponents to get the better of one. The deeper and dark twisted sound of the track match the lyrics perfectly and will hook any listener to The Pretty Reckless's unique sound.

Just Tonight, slows the album down to a tempo similar to a power ballad. The numbness we feel as humans to certain situations, especially in love situations, is fused in the lyrics of the song. Momsen uses her strong and haunting voice to perfectly relay her message to the listener while the stringed instruments in the background add to the overall feel of the song.

Miss Nothing and Goin' Down are the next two tracks on the album, respectively. Momsen speeds up the tempo and portrays use and abuse in the lyrics of these songs. The guitar riffs  are the standout in both songs, and Momsen's voice belts out with no fear; this reflects her no fear attitude towards life.

The track Nothing Left to Lose was inspired by Don McLean's song, American Pie, and parallels the same overall theme. The melancholic lyrics are accompanied with a slower rhythm and a mix of Momsen's longing voice for the past and hopeful chime for the future.

Factory Girl is the party anthem of the album. Momsen belts lyrics about finding the way to a party while the drum line predominately carries the song with its powerful beats. This track is very reminiscent of classic rock tracks, and will have any person tapping their toes to the beat. Taking it down a notch from the previous party anthem, Momsen closes the album with a slower ditty, You. The track begins with an acoustic guitar and slowly builds with other acoustic instruments, such as the violin. The simplicity of this track frames Momsen’s voice as she sings about  unreciprocated love.

It could be said that the rock n roll has died. There are so many bands out there today that just aren't pure rock. It's more a hint of rock. But it cannot be denied that Taylor Momsen produces rock music. Whether listeners will deem The Pretty Reckless rock n roll, it must be admitted that Momsen is the first girl in a while to put a band together and make real and pure rock music. With all of the pop princesses and pop superstars in the music industry, The Pretty Reckless is a breath of fresh air; something different so to speak. So whether you are a fan of dark and twisty rock songs or not, you should check out Light Me Up by The Pretty Reckless. It’s an album that will grow on you. The band knows who they are musically. Their talent, honest lyrics and ability to lay down good rock tracks (as seen on their debut album) is every indication that The Pretty Reckless is the real deal, and will be making music for a long time to come.
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