Make us your home page
Instagram

Review: Tom Petty returns to fun, sing-along form on 'Hypnotic Eye'

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Times Forum in 2010.

LUIS SANTANA | Times

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Times Forum in 2010.

There is nothing that startling or spectacular about American Dream Plan B, the opening track on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' new LP, Hypnotic Eye. And yet the attitudinal song, the catchiest cut he's crafted in years, is a jangly revelation nonetheless. It's been awhile since our beloved Gainesville guy sounded like he was having any semblance of fun, a native Floridian in a cold, gray Nebraska gloom.

But lo and behold, on American Dream Plan B, his snakey sneer might actually be a half-smile, too. The garage-greased cut is a blue-collar political rip complete with obvious drums, a cathartic chorus ("Got a dream, gonna fight till I get it right!") and, following a tingly pause, an awesomely acidic guitar racket from second-in-command Mike Campbell. In 1985 — or maybe 1965 — this sucker is a big fat hit.

The rollicking vibe isn't a one-track fluke. That song gives way to the '60s go-go chug of Fault Lines, a burner about chasing your demons (and hoo boy, ol' Tom has plenty of those) with a raised fist and a jam session. With keyboardist Benmont Tench and bassist Ron Blair laying down a groove, it plays like a sonic sequel to Runnin' Down a Dream, with a midnight-voodoo percussion line and every single noise being run through a psychedelia machine. "I got a few of my own fault lines running under my life," the 63-year-old Petty sings, celebrating, instead of bemoaning, his mistakes.

Petty and his Heartbreakers' latter-career output has been scattershot with bluesy sludge and blurred pieces — 2002's The Last DJ and 2010's Mojo were forgettable slogs — but here he's once again working with overt building blocks, open spaces and sing-along verve. Petty may not do battle on the Billboard charts anymore, but that doesn't mean he can't write the heck out of a song that should be a smash. Fair warning: When Tom and his cohorts play the Tampa Bay Times Forum Sept. 21, be careful with your bathroom breaks. Or maybe don't take any at all!

Hypnotic Eye isn't quite the life-affirming shimmer of Full Moon Fever, one of the purest party platters in all of rockdom. But Petty longs to be purely entertaining again, and when's the last time that happened? There's only one smoky intention behind the stoner groove of U Get Me High, and the appropriate followup cut, Burnt Out Town, is a comically dark Dylanesque strut about the apocalypse. Most everything is built with a glowing hook. "Take what you can and leave the past behind," he sings on the booming All You Can Carry, which makes for pretty good lovelorn advice.

The most telling cut, though, is the rumbling fistfight Forgotten Man. In the not-so-distant past, this once might have been slow, mopey, a lament about being shut out of the 21st century. Not here, not even close: "I feel like a four-letter word," he wails on the track, fighting back not just for the downtrodden but for himself as well. Our native son will always be feisty, but now he's fun again, too. Enjoy his newfound sunshiney state while you can.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@tampabay.com. Follow @seandalypoplife.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Hypnotic Eye (Warner Bros.)

GRADE: B+

Review: Tom Petty returns to fun, sing-along form on 'Hypnotic Eye' 07/28/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 5 things you didn't know about 'Wall Street' on its 30th anniversary

    Blogs

    It’s hard to think of the 1987 movie Wall Street and not picture Michael Douglas as a megalomaniac tycoon spouting “Greed is good” until shareholders fall in line. 

  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Luis Flores, executive chef at Ciccio Restaurant Group, prepares an Impossible Burger at Epicurean Hotel's Food Theatre. Impossible Burger is a plant-based burger that will launch on Sept. 27, 2017 in all the Ciccio Restaurant Group locations, except for Fresh Kitchen. "This burger caters to the carnivorous, not just the vegetarians" said Jeff Gigante, co-founder at Ciccio Restaurant Group. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
  3. Plan your weekend: Sept. 22-24: Buffyfest, Arcade Fire, Howl-O-Scream, Wanderlust 108 and 'Rent'

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    Pop show

    Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest: Pop culture meets pop music when the Florida Björkestra, a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes ground-breaking pop artists, on Saturday will play with eight vocalists for "Once More with …

    The 20th anniversary tour of RENT, shown in 2016, comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 19-24, 2017. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  4. Poorly assembled 'Lego Ninjago Movie' waters down Lego movie franchise

    Movies

    Well, that didn't take long.

    After only three movies, the Lego franchise is already a shadow of its original self, less irreverent and go-for-broke bricky. The watering down of an ingenious formula comes with The Lego Ninjago Movie, the sort we expected all along from plastic construction toys.

    A scene from "The Lego Ninjago Movie." (Warner Bros.)
  5. 'Rick and Morty' Rickmobile is coming to Tampa next week

    Events

    We now have details on when and where Rick and Morty's belching Rickmobile will be when the rolling promo for the cult hit Adult Swim show swings through Tampa on Sept. 27.

    Ricky and Morty fans will head to the Lowry Parcade and Tavern in Tampa on Sept. 27 where a pop-up merch store that will operate out of a Rick Sanchez-shaped truck.