Pretenders – Pretenders (1979)

AllMusic Review: Few rock & roll records rock as hard or with as much originality as the Pretenders’ eponymous debut album. A sleek, stylish fusion of Stonesy rock & roll, new wave pop, and pure punk aggression, Pretenders is teeming with sharp hooks and a viciously cool attitude. Although Chrissie Hynde establishes herself as a forceful and distinctively feminine songwriter, the record isn’t a singer/songwriter’s tour de force — it’s a rock & roll album, powered by a unique and aggressive band. Guitarist James Honeyman-Scott never plays conventional riffs or leads, and his phased, treated guitar gives new dimension to the pounding rhythms of “Precious,” “Tattooed Love Boys,” “Up the Neck,” and “The Wait,” as well as the more measured pop of “Kid,” “Brass in Pocket,” and “Mystery Achievement.” He provides the perfect backing for Hynde and her tough, sexy swagger. Hynde doesn’t fit into any conventional female rock stereotype, and neither do her songs, alternately displaying a steely exterior or a disarming emotional vulnerability. It’s a deep, rewarding record, whose primary virtue is its sheer energy. Pretenders moves faster and harder than most rock records, delivering an endless series of melodies, hooks, and infectious rhythms in its 12 songs. Few albums, let alone debuts, are ever this astonishingly addictive. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Track Listing:

All tracks are written by Chrissie Hynde, except where noted. All tracks on the original album were produced by Chris Thomas, except “Stop Your Sobbing” produced by Nick Lowe.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Precious” 3:36
2. “The Phone Call” 2:29
3. “Up the Neck” 4:27
4. “Tattooed Love Boys” 2:59
5. “Space Invader” (instrumental)
  • Pete Farndon
  • James Honeyman-Scott
6. “The Wait”
  • Chrissie Hynde
  • Farndon
7. “Stop Your Sobbing” Ray Davies 3:26
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Kid” 3:06
2. “Private Life” 6:25
3. “Brass in Pocket”
  • Honeyman-Scott
  • Hynde
4. “Lovers of Today” 5:51
5. “Mystery Achievement” 5:51



Schill Score: 9/10


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