London Highbury Garage

A misleading title if ever there was one.

A misleading title if ever there was one. [a]Chrissie Hynde[/a] has returned from the pop hinterland after a gap of the best part of a decade of absence, and clearly she doesn’t like what she’s found. Thirty seconds into opening track, ‘Popstar’, she’s spitting contemptuously at the whole of ’90s pop, concluding that, “they don’t make ’em like they used to”.

And if that sounds like the bile of a dilettante who never quite got as big a slice of the pop pie as she thought she deserved, then that’s just what it is. Nods of respect from Damon and Justine in past years can never quite blur the fact that The Pretenders were, at their ’80s peak, still nothing more than an awesome singles band who put albums out occasionally.

Now, at the back end of the ’90s, the remaining Pretenders are perfectly capable of producing big-hitting, radio-ready pop songs like the tender ‘From The Heart Down’, but seemingly unable to add any ’90s top-spin to the noo-wave swagger of old.

All of which makes ‘Viva El Amor!’ a decent enough reminder of past glories but, in the absence of another ‘Brass In Pocket’ or ‘Back On The Chain Gang’, something of an irrelevance.