For their eighth studio album, the Pretenders take the best blues- and soul-etched rock elements from past albums like Pretenders and Learning to Crawl and merge them with sunsplashed reggae rhythms.

For their eighth studio album, the Pretenders take the best blues- and soul-etched rock elements from past albums like Pretenders and Learning to Crawl and merge them with sunsplashed reggae rhythms. While this may cause some Pretenders purists to balk, they shouldn't, as Loose Screw is a near-perfect marriage of aggression and sweetness. Opening track "Lie to Me" is classic Pretenders, with Chrissie Hynde's incredibly distinctive vocals ferociously complemented by guitar (Adam Seymour), bass (Andy Hobson), and drums (Martin Chambers). One track later, on the Sly & Robbie-inflected "Time," the Pretenders channel "Walking in the Rain"-era Grace Jones (who, years ago, covered the band's "Private Life"). Throughout, Hynde—who co-wrote all but one song (a cover of U.K. collective All Seeing I's "Walk Like a Panther")—explores love in all its twisted glory. The graceful and highly charged "I Should Of," home to signature Hynde lyrics, is surely a future classic—quite like the album itself.—MP

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