Friday, 8 August 2014

Album review: TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS - Hypnotic Eye

Highlights: Fault Lines, Red River, Full Grown Boy, Shadow People


It’s just ten seconds, but something clicked in my brain. “Forgotten Man” may not be the most exciting song on Hypnotic Eye, but it does have one hell of a remarkable intro. I don’t think I’m off on this one, but it has to be “American Girl”. It’s a big moment if you are sentimental. And since you got interested in Tom Petty’s new album in the first place, sentimental is what you are.

What follows is a classic (if a little generic) pop rocker with a decent melody, good driving rhythm and a sparkling solo. Tom Petty is back.

The cover looks awful, but it's not like you will buy the physical copy and then stare at it all that much. This is what counts: Tom Petty’s amazing pop sensibilities have survived to this day. Yes, the band rocks, the sound is busy and lush, but in the end it has always been about this man's vocal melodies. When the band just rocks, and the sound is just busy and lush, the results don’t impress. “Burnt Out Town” is masterfully executed blues rock that is so immaculately predictable that you have to wonder why they bothered. “Honey Bee” had more to offer. (Or did it.)

Nothing special about Hypnotic Eye, but what an appealing collection of songs. I'm sure I've heard some of those vocal hooks before (e.g. “Shadow People”), but never mind. “Burnt Out Town” and the slightly plodding “Power Drunk” aside, this meets all reasonable expectations. The charming/romantic “Full Grown Boy” is a personal favourite. It’s different. It’s soulful. It’s almost Bossa Nova among all them heavy riffs and sweaty solos. 

I will of course get back to my copy of Full Moon Fever or any half-decent Heartbreakers compilation three days from now, but God knows it’s amazing to hear that voice again. Even if in the end Hypnotic Eye is about terrific musicianship rather than unforgettable songs.  

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