Hypnotized by Hypnotic Eye
What do you do when you’re 63 years old, have sold over 80 million records over the past 37 years, and are a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You write some new songs, call the guys in your band up to hit the studio, and release an album that reaches #1 on the Billboard 200. It may be hard to believe that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have never had a number one album in their decorated career until now, but the groups 2014 release, Hypnotic Eye, was the first album by the band to do so. Most bands that have been around as long as these guys that are still touring aren’t writing and recording new material, but it’s no surprise that Petty and company are one of the ones doing so. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of those bands that you can’t not like, it’s just un-American not to like them. So does Tom still have the ability to write songs as good as previous hits like “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “Free Fallin'”, “I Won’t Back Down” and “Refugee” after all these years? To answer that question I popped Hypnotic Eye into my CD player and listened through all eleven new tracks, 45 minutes later I was blown away by what I heard.
Hypnotic Eye is the follow up to the bands 2010 blues rocker Mojo, and is similar in many ways. The song writing on both albums is heavily based around an edgy blues rock sound that is very guitar driven with some flavor added with keyboards and some harmonica in certain songs. While the rhythm section does nothing flashy to catch your attention, they tighten up the songs and drive them straight to your bones. Mike Campbell has been Petty’s right hand man and co-songwriter with the heartbreakers over the years, and is also one of the most underrated guitarist in rock ‘n’ roll. After you listen to the raw and emotional playing by Campbell on this record you will never doubt his skills again. The riffs and solo’s Campbell pulls off are possibly the best of his career, and his tone is so good it’s will make any guitarist a little jealous.
The album opens with a chunky guitar riff on the song “American Dream Plan B”. This is by far one of the hardest rocking tunes Petty has written over the years, and the lyrics are sure to fire up a lot of Americans. Like so many others in our great country, he seems to be fed up with our Government and is voicing his opinions in this song. Great lyrics are something Petty’s fans have gotten used to, and this album is no different as the aging rocker continues to impress with his songwriting. Lyrics that touch on the imperfection of the human race, love, fake religious types, and some songs that will be up for personal interpretation.
Tracks like “Fault Lines”, “Red River”, “All You Can Carry”, and “Forgotten Man” are upbeat and will have you tapping your foot in no time, but Petty always delivers a variety of styles on his albums. Fans of the slower tempo bluesy songs will love “Shadow People”, “Burnt Out Town”, and “Power Drunk”. We all know Petty and the guys in the Heartbreakers like to fill our ears with music that is slow and relaxing as well, he did so with “Full Grown Boy” and the haunting “Sins of My Youth” on this go around. I believe is the best song on the album though, is “U Get Me High”. The guitar riff is mesmerizing while the beat of the drums is enough to make you get up and dance, but the melody is what makes this one great. Petty has a knack for writing the most catchy vocal melodies you will hear in rock, and this is one of them. The chorus is easy to sing along to and will be stuck in your head after just one listen.
You would think that after a 37 year career and a massive amount of hits under their belt, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would run out of that magic that they have, but they haven’t; Hypnotic Eye belongs right up with the best albums the band has released over the years. Rock ‘n’ roll needed this this record as well, one of the genre’s most true and influential groups coming out with an album capable of reaching number 1 on the Billboard 200 and bringing a spark back to the media and business people of the music industry to let them know that rock ‘n’ roll will never go away. It’s hard not to like this band, even if you’re not a huge fan I know there is something on this album for you.