Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pretenders 'Hymn To Her'

Chart Peak: 8

The follow-up to 'Don't Get Me Wrong' charted at No. 56 on 9th December 1986 and made No. 8 for 2 weeks in January 1987.
This was a bit of a comeback era for the Pretenders (or at least for Chrissie Hynde, the only original member still in the band at this point). The aforementioned 'Don't Get Me Wrong' had become her/their first Top 10 single in almost five years, and this was the only occasion in their career when they scored back-to-back Top Tens (though the run soon ended with their next single falling short of the Top 80). The former was the song I liked at the time, though I may have been swayed by the old cars in the video. I don't think it's aged all that well since, though, especially the production. This song, apart from its odd title that seems like it was supposed to be a pun, didn't grab my younger self's attention much at all and it wasn't one I expected to like at all now to be honest.

This probably won't be one of the more popular things I say on this blog but I realised quite a few years ago that I don't actually like Hynde's voice; and she's one of those singers who has a very obvious presence that I find it hard to overlook. Some of the early, punchy songs by the original band are still quite enjoyable but a Pretenders power-ballad wasn't something I particularly looked forward to. By those low expectations, 'Hymn To Her' is a mild but pleasant surprise. It's a big statement song about femininity but couched in intimate terms - and sung by a woman too - it steers clear of the worst patronising tendencies, and there's a nice, slightly jangly melody and an energy going on which makes it less heavy going than I thought. The song was written not by a Pretender but by Hynde's old schoolfriend Meg Keene (though Hynde published the song through her company). Apparently the Black Keys later went to the same song. Even Hynde is in good (and relatively subtle) voice on this one. It's a neat ending to Now 9 after a wayward couple of tracks: it also ends the truncated CD version where it follows 'Land Of Confusion'.

Also appearing on: Now 28
Available on: The Best Of / Break Up The Concrete

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