I have never been so happy to be out of middle school as I was when I exited the Paradise on Thursday night after Taylor Momsen’s Pretty Reckless show. It was (naturally) an all-ages show, so come 11:00, angsty tweens and gangly Skrillex look-alikes poured out of the venue looking as though they had they had just seen a completely different band than I had, grins plastered across their faces as they dialed their mothers to come pick them up.
Taylor Momsen (previously of Gossip Girl and Grinch fame) formed The Pretty Reckless in 2009, gathered a handful of generic rock men to back her on guitar, bass and drums, and released the band’s debut album, Light Me Up. The album’s sound relies heavily upon world-weary power chords paired with predictable melodies: a perfectly marketable sound for that niche demographic of Warped Tour-goers and teenagers who maintain that no one, like, gets them. In fact, the only redeemable facet of the album (and thus far, the band’s entire sound) is Momsen’s voice, a soulful rasp that packs both precision and power into a single note.
This same voice is what saved the live show from absolute disaster as well. If anything, Momsen sounded better live than recorded, cracks in her howl only serving to add to the show’s overall aesthetic. Her bandmates’ skills were markedly less overwhelming: drummer Jamie Perkins seemed to fall a bit off-beat every few minutes, while guitarist Ben Phillips and bassist Mark Damon rendered some of the most, hell let’s just say it, boring melodies and solos I’ve seen all year. As Momsen herself puts it in the band’s hit single, it made me want to die.
This completely underwhelming craftsmanship on the part of Momsen’s backing band as well as cringe-worthy lyrical clichés made Momsen’s vocal achievements almost disappointing, simply because her talents were going to waste on such undeserving material. Perhaps she just needs some time to grow into herself and out of her teenage angst phase: we’ve all been there, and for the most part, we all grew out of it. Here’s hoping that Momsen does, although I, for one, am not holding my breath.