on November 12, 2002
Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders have produced a song cycle that's easy to tap into if you've ever had a relationship go bad and finally figured out that you're actually okay! Chrissie Hynde has never sounded better--in fact, she's much like one of her own musical heroes--Emmylou Harris--and a bottle of fine wine; the older she gets, the more her talent evolves. True, she's not lashing out in an angry way like "Tattooed Love Boys" or "Pack It Up" from the early days, but she's still got a seductive prowl about her, and you can't deny that hers is a voice that simply commands you to attention.
I've loved the band since their infamous debut, and it's nice to see Chrissie's vision still playing out in a well-balanced set of songs.
Seldom do you hear an artist admit their faults, but Chrissie Hynde boldly puts any masks or defenses aside to get to her issues on "Loose Screw". What's more, Hynde and band decided to go with a slight reggae feel to this cd. This choice has an interesting effect of offsetting the sometimes brutally honest lyrics. What sums up this cd is a light and airy feel with cynical and sometimes sarcastic looks at relationships and love. I don't know how many failed relationships Ms. Hynde has had, but to document her most recent failure is a testament to her courage to self-analysis in the public eye. Instead of going to therapy, Ms. Hynde goes into the recording studio. Key tracks: "Lie To Me", "Complex Person", "Fools Must Die", "Kinda Nice, I Like It", "I Should Of" and "Clean Up Woman".
on November 15, 2002
...since I listened to the Pretenders. They sort of faded out for me in the late 80's, and I didn't care for their 90's stuff, even "Stand by You." Well, it looks like I came back at the right time. "Loose Screw" isn't the same sound they had in the early 80's, but that's not a bad thing. The band has managed to reinvent themselves without [fouling] up what they already had - namely Chrissie Hynde's powerful vocals and their ability to rock like few of today's sorry acts can. "Loose Screw" is the kind of Rock n' Roll that everyone else seems afraid of these days. It warms my heart to see the old guard showing the young turks how it's done. This album rocks.
on November 12, 2002
Those familiar with Chrissie Hynde's career as a trendsetting rock & roller will find "Loose Screw", The Pretenders new album on Artemis Records, another deft chapter in the history of essential rock music. From the opening bars of "Lie To Me" to the close of "Walk Like A Panther", it's clear that that Chrissie Hynde is making a definitive statement on the state of modern life without sacrificing her sharply honed lyrical observation and customary sense of humor.
The new album also marks the first time that a majority of Hynde penned songs are a collaberation between Hynde and lead guitarist Adam Seymour. "I think it's very fulfilling to write a song alone....,
then on the other hand collaborating can be really fun and I want to have fum when I do this stuff". On the new album, Chrissie and Seymour co-wrote "Lie To Me", "Time" "You Know Who Your Friends Are", "Complex Person", "Fools Must Die", "Kinda Nice, I Like It", "I Should Of", "Clean Up Woman" and "The Losing".
"Loose Screw" represents a further step in Chrissie Hynde's 25 year plus evolution. She is as she always has been, unapologetic, provocative, a great vocalist and a great songwriter.
In the last number of years, The Pretenders have opened for Neil Young, The B-52's, UB40 and The Rolling Stones. The time spent on the road is continuing to pay dividends as the quality of play on "Loose Screw" will attest.
What you have here is stifled emotion, broken promises, betrayal and in the end (Just listen to "Walk Like A Panther ~ you'll get the idea) complete victory. This is 2002's most pitiless and passionate disc; a personal triumph for Chrissie Hynde and completely worth the wait.
on November 26, 2002
I was REALLY worried when I started hearing about a new Pretenders CD. You see, everybody was comparing it to 1986's GET CLOSE....an album I HATE! Seriously, GET CLOSE is the only Pretenders release I cannot listen to! Then they started mentioning that it was heavily reggae-influenced and I didn't know WHAT to think! "At least they're on Artemis now" I reassured myself. Well, I needn't have worried....LOOSE SCREW is brilliant, a CD that is musically fresh, vocally stunning and lyrically breathtaking at times. Yes, it is the group's most mellow recording to date, but it works.....TOTALLY! The disc opens with "Lie To Me", the only true rocker. With it's sequenced chorus and biting lyrics, this song rages, but it's true beauty has to be Martin Chambers' powerful (yet sadly underrated) drumming. That is the core of "Lie To Me", and it's simply amazing. "Time" kind of bops along with it's reggae/soul/hip-hop mix. The true wonder of the song, though, has to be Hynde's voice; her vocal gymnastics are just awesome! All slow and sultry, then belting it out, she wraps her voice around these lyrics and doesn't let go. If there was ever any doubt that Hynde is as strong a singer as she is a songwriter, "Time" puts that question to rest. "You Know Who Your Friends Are" has a nice flow to it, taking an abrupt turn at the end. Beware of what you "Know!" "Complex Person" is a great song and single because it's a fresh and new sound for the Pretenders, yet at the same time really gives us insight into the mind of Chrissie Hynde: "I'm a very complex person/I try to improve but just see how I worsen/I'll do anything to make you adore me/Or deplore me/But never ignore me." With it's reggae groove and blunt lyrics, this has to be one of 2002's best singles. "Fools Must Die" harks back to the brash power-punk days, while "Kinda Nice, I Like It" is a horn-drenched R&B number that reminds us that, as far as love is concerned, there are times when we know it may be a mistake ("Everything about us looks wrong/But I swear/It feels right"), and our friends may know it ("Whispering is rude in public places/It's so obvious, it's written on their faces"), but we just don't give a damn....and we'll gladly pay the price. "Nothing Breaks A Heart" incorporates many of the reggae elements used elsewhere on the disc, but with a more delicate touch. All tinged in heartbreak, this swaying ballad showcases the after effects of regret ("When you walked out/At first I celebrated/But this footloose fancy free stuff's overrated"). With it's opening strings flowing into a kinetic beat and soaring vocal, "I Should Have" is another song about loss and regret (kind of a main theme on LOOSE SCREW!). Hynde sings "I should have tried a little harder/I should have cried a little louder/I should have lied with a little more aplomb/I,I,I,I,I,I should have known" with such passion and force that it's obvious this person still has complete power over her. They're still controlling her....sexually, emotionally, even almost spiritually. Chillingly beautiful.....or would that be beautifully chilling? "Clean Up Woman" is an interesting track. Twenty years ago, Hynde was the "Other Woman" in her classic "The Adultress", and she made no bones about it being a less-than-sterling position to be in. Now, all this time later, she seems to be flipping the coin and casting herself in the role of the woman who retained her cheating spouse. If we're to believe her, it wasn't all that great of a victory: "Women refuse to witness the kill/Of man's safari/And his battles of will/She washes the wounds/He sustains in his fight/She cradles him/In her arms all night." "I'm the cleaning woman/Here to clean up your mess", indeed! There's a delicacy to "The Losing" that harks back to the days of Burt and Hal. This minimally arranged ballad, with it's powerhouse vocal, is simply gorgeous. Special mention has to be made about the non-Hynde female backing vocals (a first, I think, on a Pretenders album?)....they add a totally new dimension to the Pretenders sound, and would be a wise (occassional) addition to future recordings. "Saving Grace" has an easy-going feel to it. With it's tender lyrics ("I really made a fool of myself/I hit the wall/But it never bothered you at all/My pony bolted out too soon/And left me howling at the moon"), we're reminded how much our loved ones can be there for us, be they lover, parents, siblings or children. With a full-bodied, poignant vocal from Hynde, this is one of those songs that stays in your head long after the CD ends. "Walk Like A Panther" ends the CD on a slinky note. Take a slitheringly sexy, breathy vocal from Hynde, mix it with a pulsating bass line and staccato percussion, then top it off with some minimally tasteful guitar, and you have what could very easily be the CD's second single. In closing, I just want to say LOOSE SCREW is a brilliant, fresh chapter in the history of a band that rarely disappoints, yet still frequently amazes!
on February 23, 2003
With over twenty years plus since the debut Pretenders album, Chrissie Hynde proves on "Loose Screw" that she still has the same drive and fire that made the original Pretender records sound so vital and compelling.
It's difficult to single out highlights on "Loose Screw" because just about every song brims with tunefulness coupled with Hynde's trademark biting and insightful lyrics. The only non-original track, " Walk Like A Pather" seamlessly fits in with Hynde's own songs of bitter heartache and breaking up, the recurring theme through out "Loose Screw". Maybe not everybody's cup of tea, but Hynde, as always, is peerless at handling this type of material with her usual aplomb and grace.
If you've enjoyed the later Pretenders efforts, from "Last Of The Independents" onward, "Loose Screw" will be welcome and rewarding addition to your collection. If you think "Learning To Crawl" was the last good Pretenders record, you are missing out on some terrific new music from one of the best singer/songwriters in the history of rock music.
lr** Feb 23,2003.
It has been clear to me since The Pretenders recorded a version of "I Got You Babe" with UB40 and later when they made "How Do I Miss You?" on 1990's `Packed!' that the group could do a whole selection of reggae songs. The only thing that surprises me is that it took until their latest studio album `Loose Screw' to bring that prospect into fruition. Consisting of leading edge New Wave riffs brought to the New Millenium and half hybrid reggae, Chrissie Hynde and her crew (by now with the greatest longevity) mostly succeed while providing one of the most middle of the road albums in their nearly thirty year history. (Almost 25 if you're counting from the time of its release.)
Not as eclectic nor matching the vitality and quality of its predecessor `Viva El Amor!,' `Loose Screw' has plenty of tracks to treasure. Refusing to retreat into rehash, Chrissy's hypnotic admonition in the opener "Lie to Me" is edgy and singularly arty for its vocal demonstration of a pathological quest for the truth. Reggae pulsates with real resonance in "Time" and "Complex Person". If titles tell the whole story, then "Fools Must Die" (rock) and "Clean up Woman" (reggae) are quintessential Pretenders' tracks. While "Clean up Woman" is the least engaging of the reggae pop songs, it rings true to Chrissie Hynde's character and lyrics. "Fools Must Die," on the other hand, is arguably the C.D.'s best. Whether waxing about love or politics or both, Chrissie bluntly lets us know about War or her last boyfriend--or both.
Hynde, whom I can only describe as "The Wife of Bath of Rock N' Roll" (and that's indeed trifling given the "complex person" we've come to know), has always excelled with toughness and tenderness, innovation and tradition. Here it's no different. Sweetness excels with pop on "You Should Know Who Your Friends Are," "I Should Of," and (especially) "Saving Grace". "The Losing" is in the same vein, but, while not entirely expendable, is the weakest link on the chain gang. Ending the engaging album is "Walk Like a Panther," which does more than demonstrate the finesse of the band and the confidence of its leading lady.
I tried to be objective with this review. If you're like me, you take your Pretenders' music intravenously, so it's hard not to give full accolades for the band. Even as the C.D. reverberates in my head, nothing can take away the fix it gives me, even if objectively it isn't their best. (3.5 *'s)
(A couple of notes: The only other album comparable to this one in the Pretender files is `Packed,' which leaned more heavily on the sweet side, but lacked the edge of this work. I also have a rare contention with the Amazon review. It states: "Seldom does Chrissie Hynde lose her cool..." While most Amazon descriptions are a model of succinctness and integration, I respectfully disagree. I can think of at least one angry song from every Pretenders' album. Also, this album surprisingly has the most expletives of any Pretenders' albums. Taken in context, the delivery doesn't have near the pungency, however, of their debut.)
on November 5, 2003
OK, enough about the first few Pretenders albums. No, there will never be another "Pretenders" or "Learning to Crawl"; quit whinging about it and take things for what they are. Occasionally a (mildly) hard rocker gets a second wind in middle age, like Neil Young or Lou Reed 15 years ago, but as a rule rock and rollers peak in their youth. It's just the nature of the beast. It's a rare rock musician, whether it's a Bob Dylan or a Neil Young or a Tom Petty or a Chrissie Hynde, who can keep putting on good shows and creating new material in middle age, even if little of that new material is remotely as interesting as what they wrote in their youth. Those who can continually re-invent themselve to remain on the cutting edge for 20 years are pretty much non-existent.
So - I'm going to take this CD in the context of the post-Learning-To-Crawl Pretenders and say it's pretty good. I'll admit it took repeated listening to appreciate it - my first reaction was that there wasn't one decent song, and I put the CD away for a year. I pulled it out on a lark recently, listened again, and found I enjoyed it a lot. It doesn't seem as artificially crafted as "Viva El Amor", has interesting new material unlike "Isle of View", and only has one song that sounds like a hopeless attempt to recapture the early Pretenders sound unlike "Packed" or "Last of the Independents". Much like "Packed", it lacks that one great song, but there are no really bad songs. Several reviews here talk about this as a reggae album, but it's a pop album with a relatively cohesive sound that includes a few reggae-ish numbers. This is nothing new for the Pretenders, of course, going back to "Private Life" on their first album.
Typically, "Loose Screw" starts out with the best song, "Lie to Me". It's a well-written, fiery (OK, middle-aged fiery) song with the sort of sophisticated lyrics one has come to expect of Hynde at her best. "Time" would be a pleasant and forgettable love song, but its disco elements transform it into a minor annoyance. "You Know Who Your Friends Are" is a reasonably good, quietly bitter song. "Complex Person" is a good light pop/reggae song that's about as complex as "Don't Get Me Wrong". It's not a pretentious song about being complex, as you'd think from some reviews here, but a lighthearted and nicely-done song about having contradictory feelings and being a bit needy. "Fools Must Die" is musically reminiscent of "Time the Avenger" with its lead guitar sound, and is musically enjoyable. The lyrics are a bit goofy, though, whether they're meant to be serious or joking.
"Kinda Nice" is a blues-y song that's kinda nice but not great. I don't really like horns with my rock, and being attracted to the wrong kind of guy isn't a new theme for Hynde. "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" is another pleasant pop/reggae song that features a good vocal performance and mediocre lyrics. "I Should Of", despite its un-Hynde-ly ungrammatical title, reminds nicely that it's OK for a rocker to use the English language well. Who else uses "aplomb" in a pop song nowadays? The song opens and closes with a string quartet, being electronic-poppy in between. The lyrics aren't remarkable, but the vocal performance is earnest and even passionate.
"Clean Up Woman" is the other reggae song, and is musically pleasant. The woman-good, man-bad lyrics are on the strident simplistic side - women clean up the mess men make of the world at large as well as at home. The irony is that it's likely Ms. Hynde has a maid and does less housework than this male listener. "The Losing" sounds a bit like 1960's Bacharach, and this ballad could have been a great climax to the CD. Even if I don't understand it - it sounds more like it's about the winning than the losing. "Saving Grace" is another light pop song, another nice vocal performance with less than stellar lyrics. It's not the first song that speaks of giving a heart away and wanting it back again, but when the Traveling Wilburys used that line years ago it was obviously meant to be a joke, not embarrassingly serious. "Walk Like a Panther" has an interesting bossa nova sound but weak lyrics end the CD on a weak note.
Overall, this is probably the best Pretenders CD's of the post-Learning-to-Crawl era. Don't buy it if you're going to complain that it doesn't have a "Precious" or a "Middle Of The Road" - it doesn't. But if you want to hear Chrissie Hynde at her mature best, this should be your top choice.
on May 29, 2014
I admire Chrissie Hynde for holding the Pretenders together long after the untimely death of both James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon. Her lyrics and musicianship is still good, but misses JHS's riffs and P.F's creative bass. Don't allow the abscence of these musicians keep you from adding "Loose Screw" to your collection.
on May 16, 2006
This album failed to do anything in the UK as did the singles You Know Who Your Friends Are and The Losing but both songs are brilliant.In fact the only song that failed to make a mark on me was Complex Person it just doesnt work.
The rest of the album however is Hynde at her best.Loud,Proud and full of Passion that not many lead female singers can pull off anymore.pity it only made #55 in the UK.