Hypnotic Eye (2014)

1. American Dream Plan B 2. Fault Lines 3. Red River 4. Full Grown Boy 5. All You Can Carry 6. Power Drunk 7. Forgotten Man 8. Sins of My Youth 9. U Get Me High 10.Burnt Out Town 11.Shadow People


When this album was first released, I remember hearing it advertised that it was supposedly an album of Petty going back to his roots, and this record was supposed to sound like his first couple of albums. I don't know who in the world ever decided this was the case, because that statement is basically B.S. This album sounds nothing like his early work. I don't mean that as a slam. Sure, his early work was great, but so is just about everything else that he has released.

This album seems to contain many many styles of Tom Petty. For some straight ahead rock, there's the awesome lead off track American Dream Plan B as well as Forgotten Man (which is the only thing that I think sounds remotely like "old" Tom Petty). In the slightly psychedelic department, we have the album closer Shadow People and the very groovy Fault Lines. He taps into Mudcrutch territory with the highly infectious Red River, and even has a couple of showy, vaudeville-ish numbers such Sins of My Youth and Full Grown Boy. Want some blues-ish numbers? He's got that covered as well on tracks such as Power Drunk and Burnt Out Town.

Despite all of these "labels", it must be pointed out that nothing here is really a stretch. He sounds like he always has sounded despite what genre he might be trying to emulate on a particular song. This is probably one of the main reasons why he has persevered for so long. He always mixes up his sound a bit to where it never sounds old, yet always sounds familiar enough for even the most picky fans to enjoy.

Strangely, though, it is the incredible diversity of this album that somehow holds the quality back a few notches. He's shifting gears a bit too abruptly through these songs, and he's doing so often. What this basically means is that the sum doesn't equal the parts. Most of the tracks, by themselves, are incredibly strong, but when placed back to back on a full album, one tends to get a bit lost and misdirected.

The album, therefore, is one that really takes several listens before one really becomes comfortable, and even then, it's a bit hard to warm up to the record as some of his others. Still, though, this is one of those artists that many could claim never really put out a bad album, and the trend still continues almost four decades after his first release.

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