Chrissie Hynde: Stockholm

First impressions of the first solo album from the Pretenders' leader

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With a new band in tow, Stockholm (out on Monday) is Chrissie Hynde's first full release since The Pretenders' Break Up the Concrete in 2008, and the singer's debut solo album.

The first solo album? Blimey, no rush, Chrissie!

I know. She turns 63 this September, but this is her first release under her own name.

Has she used the opportunity to effect a major musical volte face or radical departure, then?

Not exactly. Basically, if you liked The Pretenders, you’ll love Stockholm. Guitars, girl group pop, and gum-chewing insouciance are still the order of the day.

Why Stockholm?

Why not? I say that because I don’t know. But one wild stab in the dark is because the album was produced and co-written by Bjorn Yttling, of Peter, Bjorn and John, the Swedish trio who released 2006 novelty indie hit Young Folks, the one with the whistling. It’s got, as a consequence, plenty of pop hooks and a commercial sheen that might put off fans of the rockier end of the Pretenders’ oeuvre. Then again, Kid and Brass In Pocket were hardly Enter Sandman, were they? No, they were bubblegum with balls, pop with spikes. This is no different. In fact, Hynde has said that she wanted “to make a power pop album you could dance to - ABBA meets John Lennon”.

Is it more Abba than Lennon?

Well, there are tunes here, but there is plenty of Hynde’s sneering punk ‘tood. She can still do acerbic. On the single Dark Sunglasses, she warns, “I’m not toeing the line.” She gets even more feisty on Like In The Movies: “Don’t fuck with this heart of mine.” She’s not ready for her bus pass just yet.

It’s better to burn out than to fade away, you mean?

Yup. She’s even roped in Neil Young for a cameo. That’s him on Down The Wrong Way, in full ragged glory mode, as if you couldn’t tell - it sounds like Crazy Horse in a particularly grumpy mood.

Any other bad-tempered guests?

Funny you should ask: yes. John McEnroe, the legendarily grouchy tennis champ, is here, too.

She was always more of a classicist than an iconoclast, wasn’t she?

True - Siouxsie, The Slits and Poly Styrene looked forward while Chrissie always had one eye on the rock pantheon. Like Patti Smith, she wanted to be a female Keef. But along the way, and along with Debbie Harry, she invented a new paradigm: the sassy pop punkette.


Stockholm is out Monday June 9

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.