My love for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers knows no bounds so the announcement of a new record Hypnotic Eye due out July 29 and tour dates this summer and fall have spun me into total fanboy mode. I got a pair of tickets for what will be my fourth Heartbreakers show and in the process got to download three tracks from the upcoming album. These are a tantalizing taste and will tide me over while leaving me hungry for the remainder of the record. Let's take a quick preview of these songs to stoke the fire of our fandom!
American Dream Plan B
If Mojo was the Heartbreakers going blues, "American Dream Plan B" is the Heartbreakers going grunge! Mike Campbell drops a fuzzed riff beneath Petty's distorted vocals in the intro and verses. The chorus opens up with cleaner guitars but it's the bridge where the song gets a boost from ringing acoustic and shimmering electric guitars. The song elevates before the main riff returns beneath the kind of classic FM guitar solo Mike Campbell perfected decades ago. The line I'm fixated on in the lyrics comes near the end: like a fool I'm bettin' on happiness.
The first thing I thought of when I listened to this song is the unusual chord Petty found for "Turn This Car Around" from Highway Companion. The two-chord punctuation mark here isn't quite that distinct but is striking. The chorus isn't one of TP's best but the wordplay employed in the verses to describe the female character is sharp. Benmont Tench's rhythmic piano and organ accents give it that classic Heartbreaker sound. Campbell plays a gentle, picked guitar interlude that segues into piercing guitar solo you wish would last a little longer. That's true of most Mike Campbell guitar solos: they're so good as they are and always leave you wanting a little more.
U Get Me High
The first thing I noticed in this one is the cool bass line from Ron Blair. The guitars are jagged but without the growl of those on "ADPB." This has shades of a slowed down "Love is a Long Road" from Full Moon Fever.
The chorus is less a chorus and more a refrain but the harmonies in the chorus remind us of classic, '70s era Heartbreakers- something Petty says the band hears in this new record as well. They've gone back to the future and these three songs have me anticipating Hyptnotic Eye next month and Nashville in September.