Well, what do you know? Little Jenny Humphrey isn’t just snarl and smudgy, black eyeliner and throwing guerilla dance parties to Thurston Moore and Jemina Pearl’s cover of “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.” Billboard is streaming her new band, The Pretty Reckless’ self-titled debut EP, and guess what? It doesn’t suck!
How much of this is due to slick, expensive production and the talents of her much older-looking band mates? (They also seem to be Momsen’s second full set of backing musicians in as many years, for what that’s worth.) Hard to say. But at the very least, Little J gets points for having the powerful pipes of a natural rock singer. Although Courtney Love has accused Momsen of ripping off her early-’90s look — and, in all fairness, Love wasn’t wrong — her vocal style has more in common with Joan Jett’s. The music itself is straight-up, backwards-looking ’70s hard rock, cleaned up by some form of 21st-century studio voodoo, with all the tropes and clichés that implies: self-destruction, drugs (you can actually hear the sounds of a lighter being lit and Momsen exhaling on “My Medicine”), and vengeance.
The Pretty Reckless is not a profound or unique debut, but it is lots of fun to listen to — the kind of record you could imagine putting on to psych yourself up for a night out or blasting out of car speakers in the wee hours of the morning. We’ll give Momsen some more time to find what it is she wants to say. Right now, it’s just nice to hear a woman singing the kind of rock music we can imagine hearing on mainstream radio. Well played, Little J. Blair may always best you in Gossip Girl‘s manipulation Olympics, but your music career is much more exciting.
Watch the video for “Make Me Wanna Die”: