Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. It just feels like a lively, deeply felt Pretenders album, one that has better songs and better performances than usual.
  2. Staunch admirers of the traditional Pretenders sound might not like this record, but I say, “Yee-haw!”
  3. The blues- and country-influenced songs on Break Up the Concrete are an engaging departure from the group's earlier hits, while Hynde's dynamic alto voice gives the set the unmistakable Pretenders identity.
  4. The result is the best Pretenders record in years, a mix of galloping rockabilly and country & western songs, delivered in Hynde's trademark snarl.
  5. Mojo
    This record is looser and more organic, and a different sonic palette for Hynde. [Jul 2009, p.106]
  6. Q Magazine
    It's Hynde who steals the show with her lip-curling vibrato, part Elvis, part Dusty, never more intoxicating than on the seductive 'Almost Perfect.' [Jul 2009, p.129]
  7. Fortunately, with her velvet-sandpaper vocals and unflappable rock-chick cool, Hynde is more than enough to build an album around.
  8. 70
    Along with four new Pretenders, she's crafted a statement that's stripped bare and dangerous, just like Hynde herself, who abandons much of her haughty cool to expose some long-concealed wounds as painful as the ones that Janis Joplin unfurled on "Pearl."
  9. 70
    The Pretenders’ ninth studio album is a pleasant roots record.
  10. Many of Hynde's new songs call for honesty and compassion, and even if she never quite finds those things, her search yields some pretty vital rock 'n' roll.
  11. Her ninth studio album, recorded in just two weeks with an entirely new crew of Pretenders, just might be her most congenial, and certainly rootsiest, collection yet.
  12. Working with a new band of co-conspirators, Hynde’s subversively hard-core Concrete serves up just enough old Pretenders swing to lure back fans confused by 2002’s relatively lackluster "Loose Screw."
  13. Though the album can’t really stand with the Pretenders first three, it approximates them pretty well, like a faux vintage T-shirt that’s faded just right.
  14. Break Up the Concrete seems a bit uneven: The faster numbers begin to sound the same after a while, and the album hits a slight lull halfway through.
  15. Under The Radar
    A few throwaway tunes, but probably the best Pretenders album since "Get Close." [Winter 2008]
  16. It's Chrissie Hynde reinvestigating her roots with some rockabilly and a Dylan vibe.
  17. Uncut
    A bargin it might be, but the triumphs of yore tend to expose the new album's low-fi rockabilly and country strums. [Jul 2009, p.95]
  18. Why not take the five really good tracks on Break Up the Concrete ("Boots of Chinese Plastic," "Love's a Mystery," "Rosalee," "One Thing Never Changed," "Don't Cut Your Hair") and offer a stellar EP for download?
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 8
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 8
  3. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. TS
    Oct 29, 2008
    I was a fan of the Pretenders in the past and am currently a big fan of alt-country so this works out perfectly. All the better for being so I was a fan of the Pretenders in the past and am currently a big fan of alt-country so this works out perfectly. All the better for being so unexpected. Chrissie Hynde slips into Roots Rock/Americana like slipping into an comfortable old shoe. Strong songs, impeccably executed. I listen to this CD now at least once a day and am recommending it to all my friends. Full Review »