|Personnel: Chrissie Hynde (vocals); Joakim hlund (guitar, background vocals); Bj?rn Yttling (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, celesta, organ, Mellotron, synthesizer, electric bass, percussion); John McEnroe, Mattias Bostr?m, Neil Young (electric guitar); Andreas Pettersson (steel guitar); Cony Lindgren, Andreas Forsman (violin); Petter Axelsson (viola); Leo Svensson (cello); John Eriksson (drums, percussion); Niklas Gabrielsson (drums); Nino Keller, Ulf Engstr?m (background vocals).
|Some 35 years after the Pretenders' debut, Chrissie Hynde steps out on her own with 2014's Stockholm. Its title is not a reference to the infamous "Stockholm syndrome" but rather an allusion to her chief collaborator on the project, Bj?rn Yttling, of the Swedish pop band Peter Bjorn and John. He's the most prominent collaborator Hynde has had in a while -- she collaborated with then-lover JP Jones on the 2010 album Fidelity! and spent most of 2002's Loose Screw writing with long-term latter-day Pretenders guitarist Adam Seymour -- but collaborators tend to fade into the background with Hynde, just like how distinctions between a band and solo performances blur with her, too. Hynde is that powerful of a presence and she remains so on Stockholm, although it is by many measures one of the lightest records she's ever made. Some of this is certainly due to Yttling, who encourages Hynde to indulge in pop inclinations she's hinted at but never explored, but it's also true she's in a fairly sunny state of mind, never dwelling on either mortality or heartbreak. This suits the glistening production, which employs several mildly modernistic techniques -- there are electronic rhythms, suggested synthesizers, sly effects, and a general bright openness that feels fresh -- and helps accentuate her sprightlier melodies, whether it's the Spector-esque spangle of "You or No One," the echoing nocturnal vistas of "A Plan Too Far," or the heady rush of "Dark Sunglasses," the cut here that comes closest to sounding like vintage Pretenders. Even if Stockholm rarely suggests either the muscle or roar of the Pretenders, it never once doesn't feel like the work of Chrissie Hynde; sonically and aesthetically, it feels like the next logical chapter after 2008's Break Up the Concrete and 2010's Fidelity! And, as it is a Chrissie Hynde project, it is a little inconsistent, sometimes sagging on ballads or dragging its feet at mid-tempos, but there are several strong additions to her canon and the overall feel is appealing and, thanks to her unexpected collaborator, fresher than expected. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine