With many of the big heritage rock acts either semi-retired or releasing weak material, it’s great to see such a strong album from the Heartbreakers hitting our shelves (or our laptops) this week.
Right from the off, ‘Hypnotic Eye’ hits home with the crunchy fuzzy echo-laden opening passages of American Dream Plan B that soon give way to a full throated classic rock chorus and ultimately to a passionate Mike Campbell guitar solo. And this is just the start.
The album continues in this vein, with catchy and varied tracks such as the anthemic Red River and lovely genre exercises like Full Grown Boy — a jazz-country hybrid, and Power Drunk — a nice slab of old fashioned r’n’b (think Dylan, circa ‘Slow Train Coming’)
All of Tom’s influences appear throughout the album, with many melodies and tunes that would not be out of place on Beatles, Byrds or Wilburys albums, most noticeably on the confessional Sins of My Youth and the radio-friendly All You Can Carry. There is also a strong sense of raw bluesy Americana throughout, particularly on the closing two or three songs on the album. And there are not many ballads.
Tom hasn’t always produced the greatest lyrics but this time they seem to match the rawness of the music and he snarls them convincingly in his well-ageing nasal tone.
The band are on fire with Campbell and multi-instrumentalist Benmont Tench particularly to the fore. It is definitely a rock record, with more emphatic playing (Thurston Moore contributes rhythm guitar) and stronger songs than 2008’s low-key ‘Mojo’. A keeper!