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posted: 6/4/2014 3:09 PM

Chrissie Hynde falls short on solo debut

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  • Chrissie Hynde, "Stockholm"

    Chrissie Hynde, "Stockholm"
    Associated Press/Caroline Records

Associated Press

Chrissie Hynde, "Stockholm" (Caroline)

It's an awful irony that the most notable thing about the first album Chrissie Hynde is releasing under her own name is its lack of distinctiveness.

After two drug overdoses ended the first lineup of the Pretenders more than 30 years ago, the band essentially became Hynde and whoever came along for the ride. But she always insisted on billing her albums under the Pretenders name. Until "Stockholm."

Despite that change, Hynde said this disc is as much a collaboration as she's ever made. She wrote and recorded with the Swedish producer Bjorn Yttling of the band Peter, Bjorn and John. Frankly, much of it is generic, bouncy pop-rock, pleasing to the ear and forgotten as soon as it fades out. Distinctive guitar cameos by Neil Young and John McEnroe (yes, THAT John McEnroe, and he can play!) are wasted.

It could be anyone singing, not one of rock music's most recognizable voices, even though that voice retains its strength. It hurts to hear rock's toughest chick spouting cliches or singing, "Look at me, I'm laughing like a child, and all of it because you're the one."

Hynde's voice is special because it can evoke both off-the-cuff sass and heartbreaking melancholy. There's one good example of each on "Stockholm": the danceable single "Dark Sunglasses" and the lovely "Adding the Blue." When her great career is recapped, they'll be the only two things worth recalling from "Stockholm."

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