The Pretenders – Hate for Sale (Album Review)

One of the pioneers of Post-Punk, The Pretenders were formed in 1978, in London, England. Founded by American Singer-Songwriter Chrissie Hynde, who relocated in 1973 from Ohio, U.S., in the band’s 40 years of activity, they have released a bundle of great music, including six albums that consecutively went either gold, silver, or platinum. From 1980’s self-titled debut, and beyond, they producing a slew of now classic hits that include “Brass in Pocket,” “Back on the Chain Gang,” “Middle of the Road,” “Don’t Get Me Wrong,” “Hymn to Her,” and “I’ll Stand by You.” Now, on Friday, July 17th, 2020, after some release delays due to COVID-19, they unleashed Hate for Sale via BMG Rights Management.

Their first album since 2016’s Alone, Hate for Sale includes 10 new songs that will excite especially old fans because it features alongside Hynde her fellow founder, Drummer Martin Chambers, whose last presence in the band was in 2002’s Loose Screw.

Their 11th overall studio record, Hate for Sale opens straightaway with its title-track, whose murky, grating guitars and Hynde’s poetic justice assure that The Pretenders are, indeed, still unrelentlessly jagged after all the years. Melody and rhythm then sway in sweetly as the lead single, “The Buzz,” plays next. Thereafter, the band then changes the pace and style -“Lightning Man” is mystery delivered in Reggae fashion, exuding echoes of Fun Boy Three (“The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum”), The Police (“Roxanne”), and The Specials (“Ghost Town”). With the ensuing “Turf Accountant Daddy,” Hynde and comrades – Chambers on drums, James Walbourne on guitar, and Nick Wilkinson on bass – then take you to their trademark sound of good ol’ Post-Punk Rock-n-Roll.

The Pretenders then slow the mood with the bluesy, starry-eyed, Lou Reed-inspired ballad “You Can’t Hurt a Fool.” After this momentary rest, the quartet shifts the gear once again with the angular stomper “I Didn’t Know when to Stop,” only to turn melodramatic again with Hynde’s love letter to New York–“Maybe Love Is in NYC.” Another abrasive, garage rocker comes next in the form of “Junkie Walk.”

The second-to-the-last track, “Didn’t Want to Be This Lonely” is upbeat and punky; a seeming nod to The Ramones (“Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”) when the Punk pioneer was throwing its poppy, goofy sonic antics. Finally, Hynde and the rest of The Pretenders wrap up Hate for Sale with the soul-baring balladry of “Crying in Public.”

Almost half a century has passed since Hynde’s beginnings as a young, struggling artist who jumped from one band to another and who almost gave up. She may have mellowed down, naturally; but she proved to be indomitable and her music with The Pretenders has remained fiery, grounded, and relevant. Hate for Sale is another placard of activism, very much in touch with the world’s current state of affairs. Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

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