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. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  2. Four chopped salads that are quick, easy and tasty

    Cooking

    When I'm in need of a summertime "grab and run" meal that has extreme flavor and crunch, chopped salads are my answer. The five I turn to most are easy to pack and don't require cooking.

    Spicy Beet and Carrot Coleslaw.
  3. Five ideas for cooking with ground turkey

    Cooking

    I rarely cook with ground beef. Ground turkey became the go-to ground protein in my kitchen years ago. As meats go, it's pretty ideal: not a ton of raw meat juices, easy enough to cook in a pinch, more flavor than ground chicken. I sub turkey in for just about any recipe that calls for ground beef, except on …

    Siraracha Turkey Skewers are accompanied by jasmine rice and carrot-cucumber slaw.
  4. Watch Round 3 of Feeding Tampa Bay's Epic Chef Showdown

    Cooking

    TAMPA — Round 3 of the third annual Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay is Monday night, and you can watch it live right here.

    Chef Richard Bergendale of The Mill restaurant and Sous Chef Jeff Thornsberry of Locale Market competed in Round 1 of the Epic Chef Showdown. [Epicurean Hotel / Feeding Tampa Bay]
  5. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.