Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Build A Rock ‘N Roll Time Machine With Hypnotic Eye
I’m a Tom Petty fan through and through. Whether it’s a Heartbreakers record, solo album or even another project like Mudcrutch or The Traveling Wilburys, I have loved everything Petty touches. Hell even his cameos on King Of The Hill are favorites of mine.
When I was asked to review Petty’s newest release, Hypnotic Eye, I was naturally excited. It’s been 4 years since Petty released “Mojo” which I thought was a solid release, it showed the age of the band a bit, but it was a good rock n roll album. So with this new release I was expecting the usual Heartbreakers driving rock with perhaps a little less edge due to the effects of father time but I was wrong. This is no old man’s record, no sir.
The album kicks off with “American Dream Plan B”, a driving tongue and cheek anthem about getting what you want despite the current state of American life. This is a classic Petty “I’m a badass” attitude jam. The driving guitars and steady backbeat carry the verses then a melodic chorus, which is in quintessential Heartbreakers style.
“Fault Lines” is a fun upbeat song that is a throw back to the early Petty days. It is my favorite track on the record. Petty’s vocals sound like they are from mid 70’s on this one, which is never a bad thing. The next track “Red River” takes the classic melodic Heartbreakers route, reminiscent of something off of “Into The Great Wide Open” complete with one of those Mike Campbell ripping solos that only last a few measures yet is better than have the “shredders” out there.
As this record goes on you realize that Petty and company were really focused on making a throwback album. The next track “Full Grown Boy” is a soft ballad followed “All You Can Carry” that seems like it will be the radio track from this one, if that is still a thing? If you are still skeptical about the “Classic Heartbreakers” sound I keep plugging in this review just wait until you reach “Power Drunk”. This song could have been on “Damn the Torpedoes” for sure. It has that Campbell smooth guitar work and Petty’s vocals sound eerily like he is in his 20’s again. “Forgotten Man” comes ripping through next at only 2:49 it is a true throwback to the days of “American Girl” and other Petty radio hits.
“Sins Of My Youth” is another ballad that balances out the album nicely showing that Petty still can both rock out and sing a sweet one now and again. The next two “U Get Me High” and “Burn This Town” remind me of “Mojo” with their driving bluesy ryhthm. Again still solid tracks that seem to round our record nicely. The final track “Shadow People” returns the listener to the heyday of Tom Petty, as it has those “Breakdown” elements that makes a great Heartbreakers tune.
Overall this is probably the best Tom Petty and The Heartbreaker’s album since “Into The Great Wide Open” back in 1991. It also is the closest the band has come to capturing that early sound that put them on the map in mid 70’s. The elements are all there from Mike Campbell’s timeless understated guitar craftsmanship to Petty’s unique vocals. If you are a true Heartbreakers fan you will love this one and if you are a fan of real Rock n Roll, you should be stoked about this one too. In an era of music that has really forgotten what real rock music is this throwback album by one of the greatest American bands really is a solid reminder. Rock n roll is not dead and it also is not just a young man’s game. Petty, who is 63, proves that age is just a number when you put out consistently solid albums for over 40 years. This is my pick for best rock album thus far in 2014.