Picks and Pans Review: Last of the Independents

UPDATED 05/16/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/16/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT

Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde's no-nonsense sexual bravado and impeccable pop smarts have been influencing how women rock since the 1979 debut of her band the Pretenders; certainly her bad-girl persona has helped pave the way for a generation of rock chicks, right up to alternative music's current sweetheart Liz Phair. On Last of the Independents, the Pretenders' best album since the decade-old Learning to Crawl, Hynde continues to tackle her favorite subject, love, in a way that may frustrate longtime fans of this symbol of empowerment. In a curious homage to doormats, her female protagonists constantly give, rarely get and waste a ton of time wailing for "him" to return. The weakest track, the waltzy "I'll Stand By You," is an anthem of blind support. And on "977" Hynde coos, "He hit me with his belt/His tears were all I felt," as though remorse excuses abuse. Fictional or not, it's a shockingly regressive stance. Fortunately there is the fiercer "I'm a Mother" or the anthemic "Revolution" to quickly erase the creepiness of "977." Such is her emotional force that Hynde manages to transform even iffy sexual politics into powerful rock. (Sire/Warner Bros.)

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