The Pretenders
Break Up the Concrete
(Shangri-La Music)


Over the past 30 years, Chrissie Hynde has been the Pretenders’ only constant, said Alan Light in The New York Times. Though the lineup has changed, her breathy snarl and bad-girl bravado have given the band its unmistakable identity. Break Up the Concrete presents “yet another version of the Pretenders,” and the effectiveness of the band’s latest evolution is a testimony to Hynde’s uncompromising vision. The 57-year-old’s “persona is largely the same” as it was on the Pretenders’ 1980 debut, said Ben Greenman in The New Yorker. But the “straightforward roots rock” on the band’s ninth album shows off a new sound. The collection, cut live over 10 days, is gutsy and “smart and confident and questioning and vulgar and philosophical and energetic and weary all at once”—just like Hynde herself. She’s returning to her roots here, literally and musically, said Jody Rosen in Rolling Stone. Hynde has been spending time in her native Ohio, and it shows. In these “galloping rockabilly and country and western songs” she reincarnates Bo Diddley’s sound and serves up “pedal-steel weepers,” delivering the “best Pretenders record in years.”