Review by Oscar Jordan

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers has never been a band you would call a juggernaut. They’ve made a career out of creating mid-tempo gems that rely on nuance and accessibility, rather than neck cranking velocity. At sixty-three years old, Petty’s musical precedent serves the later part of his career. There’s nothing worse than seeing an artist exert himself in an attempt to mimic the boundless energy of his youth.

Hypnotic Eye is Petty’s thirteenth studio record and you can bet none of the band members will break a sweat performing this material. Tom Petty has a well-worn but popular niche within the rock lexicon, and there’s nothing wrong with doing what you do. Three years in the making, Hypnotic Eye finds Petty and his cohorts mining that corner of the room that made them a household name. It’s full of crashing jangle, evocative lyrics, Mike Campbell’s laconic guitar artistry, and Petty’s signature whine.

It’s a low-key affair filled with substance that grows on you with each listen. “All You Can Carry” stands out with its rugged riffs and rib-sticking hooks, while “Red River” envelops you with its cinematic southwestern imagery. “Forgotten Man” is a rocking track that mashes up a recipe of Bo Diddley and The Rolling Stones, done up in guitar tremolo, and Petty’s familiar drawl.

Hypnotic Eye is a strong record that draws neatly within the lines. It’s a fat-free, well-crafted record that plays by the rules of brevity. It reminds you why you showed up to the party in the first place. With craftily recorded compositions like “Fault Lines,” “Shadow People,” and “Sins Of my Youth,” you’re taken back to when you couldn’t wait to get to the record store to pick up your copy of Damn The Torpedoes.

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Tom Petty & The Heart Breakers | Hypnotic Eye | Reprise/Warner Bros.
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