Thirty-five years after The Pretenders’ self-titled debut, Chrissie Hynde has recorded her first solo album. But then since the drug-related deaths of original guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, the band was always a fluid set-up.
For Stockholm Hynde has enlisted the help of – along with cameos from Neil Young and, bizarrely, tennis legend John McEnroe – co-writer, guitarist and producer Bjorn Yttling, of Peter Bjorn and John, the Swedish trio who released the 2006 novelty indie hit Young Folks. Hynde perhaps had that single in mind when she declared her intention “to make a power pop album you could dance to – ABBA meets John Lennon”.
On Stockholm she does indeed combine the pop quotient of the former with the acerbic touch of the latter. Even at 62 she is the epitome of gum-chewing, finger-snapping cool. Ever the new-wave classicist, she still knows how to hone a catchy melody. But she mixes cutting with cute. On Like In The Movies she warns: ‘Don’t fuck with this heart of mine’. Down The Wrong Way, featuring Young in full ragged glory mode, is an object lesson is louche vitriol.
You’ve got to hand it to her: on this album Hynde has produced a set of songs that could have come out in 1980-81. That’s a criticism if you’re into progression and change, a major compliment if you want a record that sounds like peak Pretenders. ‘I’m not Monet or Van Gogh,’ she drawls on closer Adding The Blue. No, but you do badass insouciance like no one else.